Human immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus which affects the immune system.

HIV can be sexually transmitted through vaginal and anal sex without a condom and by sharing needles to take drugs. 

HIV may also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby or through an infected blood transfusion. 

Some people get a flu-like illness a few weeks after acquiring HIV.  After this you can have HIV for years and not have any symptoms.  Eventually the immune system becomes weaker and you are more likely to get infections such as pneumonia or certain types of cancer.

With treatment, people living with HIV have a normal life expectancy.  People who are on treatment for HIV with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV to their partners.  This is called U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable).


HIV is tested for by a blood test.  You can do this in clinic or you can order an online test kit 


You can prevent HIV and other STIs by:

  • Using condoms. You can request free condoms at our clinics.
  • testing each time you change your sexual partner can help reduce the transmission of STIs. 

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

If you have had a sex in the last 3 days and you are worried that you have been exposed to HIV, then you can take medication to reduce your risk of acquiring HIV.  This is called PEP.  You should call us on 0300 123 5474 or attend one of our clinics urgently.  If we are not open you can access PEP via Accident and Emergency.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

PrEP is a medicine that you take before sex to reduce your risk of acquiring HIV.  It is highly effective and is free to access on the NHS.  If you would like to start PrEP:

Read more about PrEP:

UK guide to PrEP | Guides | HIV i-Base

Women and PrEP

Living with HIV in Wirral

Liverpool University Hospital Foundation Trust provides the HIV service in Wirral from premises in Birkenhead.

The team can be contacted on 0151 282 6099.