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Welcome to

Serving the needs of the HIV community

About Us

ABplus is a peer-led support service for people living with, or significantly affected by HIV in Birmingham and neighbouring areas.


ABplus was established in 1996 by Tom Matthews and Ray Farnell with initially 20-30 members who met at each other’s homes.

Now the organisation has a significant number of members who actively uses the service.


To empower people living with, or affected by HIV, to find the support, advice and the encouragement they need to live fulfilling lives.


  • No one should be ashamed of living with HIV.
  • There is no right or wrong way of living with HIV, only the most appropriate way for that individual.
  • Education and prevention are both critical to reducing the transmission of HIV and other STIs.
  • Our Staff, trustees and volunteers are committed to being professional, transparent and accountable are fundamental in their dealings with members, our partners and commissioners.
  • It is important to create an environment that provides stability, respect, and team work and a purpose for all.
  • Continuous development is the best way to achieve our purpose.

We shall;

Provide a safe, confidential and non-judgmental environment for all people living with HIV.

Understand the personal, social and economic needs of individual members.

Support individual members in accessing appropriate social care and clinical services.

Encourage our members to value themselves, each other and their diversity.

Enable our members to help themselves and each other to become more independent.

Challenge prejudice and discrimination.

Aspire to the highest standards of governance and financial management


Drop in sessions



Monday and Friday’s from 10am-3pm

Refreshments and freshly cooked meals for all members.

Food Bank


FareShare is available on Monday and Friday’s during the drop-in for members who are in financial crisis.

Signposting and Referrals

One-to-one support from Health & Social Care services (includes family support) are available on Monday and Friday’s 11am – 3pm.

Drug and Alcohol sessions, every Tuesday at 12 -3pm.


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Peer Support

Men, Women and Youth Groups

Regular meetings to share, support and encourage each other.
Hardship Fund

  1. Hardship Fund for people living with HIV who are experiencing extreme financial hardship.
  2. Funded places for respite weekends for people living with HIV


Information and Counsel

Informal advice and support is offered from positive mentors on what to expect from living with HIV.

One-to-one support around all issues of living with HIV particularly to adherence to medication and disclosure of status.  We have a space for the positive community to run their own sessions and activities in a supported environment


Working with the community

Volunteering Programme in place providing opportunities for volunteering within the centre and also outreach and fund-raising activities.  Volunteers are expected to participate in an induction training programme.

What is HIV

HIV stands for ‘Human Immunodeficiency Virus’. HIV is a virus which attacks the immune system and weakens a person’s ability to fight off infections and diseases.

How do you get HIV?

HIV is found in the body fluids of an infected person, which includes semen, vaginal and anal fluids, blood, and breast milk. It is a fragile virus and does not survive outside the body for long.

HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat or urine.

The most common way of getting HIV in the UK is by anal or vaginal sex without a condom. According to statistics from Public Health England, 95% of those diagnosed with HIV in the UK in 2013 acquired HIV as a result of sexual contact.

Other ways of getting HIV include:

  • using a contaminated needle, syringe or other injecting equipment
  • tranmission from mother to baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
  • through oral sex or sharing sex toys (although the risk is significantly lower than for anal and vaginal sex)

What are the symptoms of early HIV infection?

The most common symptoms of early HIV infection, usually occurring around ten days after infection, are fever, rash and severe sore throat all occurring together. This combination of symptoms is unusual in healthy people and indicates the need for an HIV test.  70-90% of people experience symptoms of early HIV infection but some do not experience any. After two-three weeks these symptoms disappear, and someone with HIV may then live for many years without any further symptoms or indicators that they are HIV positive.

Is HIV and AIDS the same thing?

No. When someone is described as living with HIV, they have the HIV virus in their body. A person is considered to have developed AIDS when the immune system is so weak it can no longer fight off a range of diseases with which it would normally cope.


How many people unaware they have been infected

Over 50's

Over 50's who have diagnosed HIV infection


How many people who were diagnosed late

HIV care

New diagnoses for over 15's and linked to care within three months

Get Involved

Want to get involved?

There are many ways you or your organisation can support the work we do at ABplus.  


Are you a caring person who has spare time?

Do you want to gain new skills and experiences?

If your answer is YES, you are ready to make a huge contribution to our service to help the lives of others.

For a new and exciting experience look no further to become a part of a friendly and dedicated team.

To apply please fill out form below and email to info@abplus.org.uk



We are a small charity that requires financial assistance to support the growing number of adults and children who access our service.

If you have an idea that will help to make a difference to ABplus, please contact us on 0121 622 6471 or enquiry@abplus.org.uk to discuss and identify how we can help.

We look forward to your contribution regardless of how big or small.


Our funding is very limited, so we are having to depend greatly on the generosity of local people and businesses to continue the service.

So to continue the work, your kind contribution will go a long way to help more people and develop our service for those who are vulnerable.

However much you can give, whether it is a regular payment or a single donation we guarantee that every penny will be spent to help more people who accessing our service.

Cheque or Postal Order:




Can you get HIV from oral sex?

The risk of HIV transmission from performing oral sex is low but it can still happen. It is best to avoid giving oral sex if you have cuts or sores in your mouth or bleeding gums, as this increases the risk of HIV entering your body.

How can I protect myself and others from HIV infection?

Always use a condom when having vaginal or anal sex. You may also want to use a condom or dental dam during oral sex although the risk of transmission of HIV is much lower. You can get free condoms from a sexual health clinic, which you can locate via the FPA website. Never share needles, syringes or any other injecting equipment.

How do I know if I’ve put myself at risk of HIV infection?

Putting yourself at risk of HIV relates to both what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with. If you are having sex without a condom, you could be putting yourself at risk of HIV — but this risk increases if your partner is sleeping with more than one person, has HIV but doesn’t know it, or has any other STIs. Take our ‘Have you put yourself at risk?‘ quiz.

If you have shared a needle or injecting drug equipment when injecting drugs, you have put yourself at risk of HIV (and other serious viruses) and should definitely have an HIV test (as well as getting tested for other infections such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C).

Is anal sex more risky than vaginal sex when it comes to HIV transmission?

HIV can be transmitted through both anal and vaginal sex, but in some circumstances there is greater risk involved in anal sex. This is because anal sex carries a greater risk of trauma (such as tearing of the skin and bleeding) which makes it easier for the HIV infection to get through.

Where can I get an HIV test?

The most common place to go to for an HIV test is a local sexual health clinic but you can also get tested in a range of other locations, such as at your GP or private doctor’s surgery, in hospital or in a local community setting.  HIV tests are also now available by post and over the counter at some pharmacies but will you have to pay for these.

Are HIV test results accurate?

HIV tests are extremely accurate and ‘false positives’ are very rare (although slightly more common in rapid tests — where results are almost immediate). But all HIV positive test samples are sent for a second, lab-based test for confirmation — so a person would never incorrectly be diagnosed with HIV.

HIV will also not be detected during the ‘window period’, the small window of time (around four weeks) straight after infection where signs of HIV cannot be picked up during screening.

If you think you have put yourself at risk, do not hang around waiting for the window period to pass — speak to your local sexual health clinic as soon as possible to discuss the best course of action.

Are there any health benefits to getting tested early if you think you have HIV?

Finding out early if you have HIV has two vital benefits. Firstly, you will be able to start treatment as soon as you need it, which makes it more effective in helping you live a long, healthy and active life. Secondly, if you know you have HIV you can take the right steps to prevent passing it on to others by practicing safer sex.

Is HIV treatment free to everyone in the UK who needs it?

The Government has announced that from October 2012, HIV treatment will be provided for free on the NHS to everyone who needs it.  Until this time, some migrants face extensive bills for the HIV treatment they access.  No one with HIV should ever be denied treatment, even though they may be charged for it.

What is PEP?

PEP or Post Exposure Prophylaxis is a medical treatment that can prevent HIV infection after the virus has entered the body.

If you have put yourself at risk of HIV infection you can go to a sexual health clinic or hospital A&E department and they can usually prescribe a course of PEP drugs. You need to start PEP ideally within 24 hours of the risk occurring and no later than 72 hours. The longer you wait the less chance of PEP working.

The treatment involves taking anti-HIV drugs for four weeks. The drugs can have side-effects, including diarrhoea, headaches, nausea and vomiting – these stop once you stop taking PEP.

It is not guaranteed you will get PEP if you ask for it. The doctor you see will advise you whether they recommend it based on the level of risk involved. They will also ask you to have a HIV test before and after taking PEP. PEP won’t be offered if you refuse to be tested.

Why do some people find it difficult to tell others they have HIV?

Unfortunately in today’s society there is still a lot of stigma around HIV and many people hold myths and misconceptions about HIV and how it is transmitted. Some people also hold prejudicial views about people living with HIV. This means many HIV positive people find it difficult to tell others about their HIV because they have fears about how people will react and think it will be easier if they kept it to themselves.

How should I respond when someone tells me they are HIV positive?

Unfortunately even in today’s society some people hold prejudiced views about HIV, this often stems from people not understanding the facts.

This means people living with HIV can find it difficult to tell others about their status because they have fears about how people will react. If they tell you they are placing a huge amount of trust in you and it is important not to abuse that trust.

Firstly it is important you keep the information to yourself and try to handle the situation as sensitively as you can. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you would like someone to say and do. Often people living with HIV find questions about how they acquired their status difficult. Wait to see what level of information they want to share.

You could also try to gauge how the person is coping with their diagnosis. For some people, particularly if they have been living with HIV for a while, it may not be something they particularly struggle with, however for some, especially if they are recently diagnosed, they may be upset and be looking for support. Maybe ask them how they feel about it.

And most importantly try not to worry if somebody you care about has HIV. In most cases, and with the right support, people living with HIV can lead a normal life, be able to work, have relationships and children. And if they are diagnosed early and on effective treatment they are also likely to have a normal lifespan.

*Go to http://www.hivaware.org.uk/facts-myths/faqs-myths for more


More than a job, its a reward

We are committed to working with dynamic and talented individuals who will thrive in a challenging and growing environment.

We support and encourage individuals to make contributions which are a unique and forwarding thinking to help make their experience of working for ABplus a good one.

We have no vacancies at the moment but you can contact us to see if we have anything coming up.

Contact Us

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Get in touch

ABplus is located in the heart of the Gay Village in Birmingham city centre.

We are a 10 minute walk from Birmingham New Street station and a 5 minute walk from the central bus station.

29/30 Lower Essex Street, Birmingham B5 6SN
0121 622 6471

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