What Kinds Of Hiv Tests Can A Person Get From A Healthcare Provider Or Community Worker In Canada
There are two primary approaches to HIV testing: 1) standard HIV testing and 2) rapid point-of-care testing . To test for HIV, a sample of a persons blood is taken . The blood is either sent to a laboratory to be tested for HIV or, with rapid point-of-care testing, the blood is tested immediately for HIV at the location it was taken.
If the blood is sent to a laboratory, the person being tested may have to return for a second visit to the place where they were tested to receive the result.
With point-of-care testing, the person receives the result within a few minutes. The result may be non-reactive or reactive . If the test is non-reactive, no further testing is required and the person receives a negative result. However, if the test is reactive, then a second blood sample is taken and sent to the laboratory for confirmatory testing. The person will have to return for a second visit to receive the final result.
For more information on these approaches to testing, see the CATIE fact sheet HIV testing technologies.
A word on the window period
The window period is the period of time from when a person is exposed to HIV to the time when an HIV test can tell for certain whether they have HIV. If the person has a negative test result but is in the window period, then they should be advised when to test again to get a definitive result. For more detailed information on the window period, see the HIV testing technologies fact sheet.
Take Action: Get Tested
If you want to know more about HIV testing and prevention, take this list of questions to your appointment.
What about cost?
Free HIV testing is available at some testing centers and health clinics.
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must cover HIV testing. HIV counseling is covered for women who are sexually active. Talk to your insurance company to find out more.
To learn about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov.
Importance Of Hiv Testing
If you have the virus, finding out quickly means you can start treatment right away so you can feel better and live a long, full life. You can also take steps so you don’t pass HIV to other people.
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Hiv Tests For Screening And Diagnosis
HIV tests are very accurate, but no test can detect the virus immediately after infection. How soon a test can detect HIV depends upon different factors, including the type of test being used. There are three types of HIV diagnostic tests: nucleic acid tests , antigen/antibody tests, and antibody tests.
An initial HIV test usually will either be an antigen/antibody test or an antibody test. If the initial HIV test is a rapid test or a self-test and it is positive, the individual should go to a health care provider to get follow-up testing. If the initial HIV test is a laboratory test and it is positive, the laboratory will usually conduct follow-up testing on the same blood sample as the initial test. Although HIV tests are generally very accurate, follow-up testing allows the health care provider to be sure the diagnosis is right.
If I Get A Negative Result With The Oraquick Test Does That Mean That I Definitively Do Not Have Hiv
No and this is important for users of the test to understand. The test is not reliable at detecting HIV infection until at least three months after infection. In addition, even after three months, there can also be false negative results because no test is perfect. Clinical studies by untrained consumers showed that the OraQuick test will produce about one false negative result out of every 12 tests performed in HIV- infected individuals. Also, individuals taking medicine to treat or prevent HIV infection may get false negative results because the medicines may affect antibody levels. This means that its important not to rely on a negative test result to decide whether to engage in behavior that puts you at risk for HIV infection.
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What If My Hiv Test Is Negative
If your standard laboratory or point-of-care HIV blood test is negative and it has been more than 3 months since you may have been exposed to HIV, then it means that you likely do not have HIV. If it has been less than 3 months since you may have been exposed, you may still have HIV, but it is too early for the test to detect the antibodies. You will need to have a second test after the 3 months have passed to be sure.
Other Specialized Hiv Care
Casey House is a hospital providing both compassionate in-patient health care and community programming for people with HIV/AIDS.
Casey House provides:
- Day health care
- Community care and outreach
- help with finding supportive housing for people with HIV/AIDS
- programs that provide volunteer in-home hospice care
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What Your Test Results Mean
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE HIV,you can stay that way. Use condoms and practice safer sex to help protect yourself. Talk to your partners about their test results. Never share needles. Get retested regularly. And ask a healthcare provider about all the ways you can prevent HIV.
The Healthcare Worker There To Help You
Before you test, your healthcare worker will talk to you about your sexual health and why youve decided to test. This is to help them understand your situation so they can offer you the best services and advice.
Remember, the healthcare professional is not there to judge you. There will be nothing you can say that they havent heard before so be honest with them, and ask as many questions as you want. Thats what theyre there for.
You should never feel pressured to test. The results will be completely confidential but you should only go through with it if you want to.
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What Happens During An Hiv Test
You will either get a blood test in a lab, or do your own test at home.
For a blood test in a lab:
- A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
For at home test, you will need to get a sample of saliva from your mouth or a drop of blood from your fingertip.
- The test kit will provide instructions on how to get your sample, package it, and send it to a lab.
- For a saliva test, you will use special spatula-like tool to take a swab from your mouth.
- For a fingertip antibody blood test, you will use a special tool to prick your finger and collect a sample of blood.
For more information on at-home testing, talk to your health care provider.
Insurance Coverage Of Hiv Testing
Most insurers now broadly cover HIV testing, many without cost-sharing, in part due to a decision made by the United States Preventive Services Task Force , an independent panel that assess the net benefit of preventive services and assigns a subsequent letter grade . Under the ACA, any A or B graded preventive services must be provided by most insurers without cost-sharing in addition, traditional Medicaid programs, while not required to provide USPSTF top graded services are incentivized to do so. In 2013, the USPSTF gave HIV screening an A rating for all adolescents and adults, ages 15 to 65.39 It also gave an A grade to HIV screening for pregnant women. Both of these recommendations were reaffirmed in 2019.40 The current insurance coverage landscape of HIV testing is as follows:
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What Are The Benefits Of Home Hiv Tests
HIV is much easier to manage and treat if its identified early and treatment is started as soon as possible.
Home HIV tests allow people to receive results almost immediately sometimes within minutes without having to wait for an appointment with a healthcare professional or take time out of their schedule to visit a lab.
Early identification is essential for successful long-term treatment and survival with HIV.
Home tests empower people to learn whether they have the virus earlier than any other testing methods. This can help them limit the virus effect on them and on others around them.
Early identification can even protect people they do not know, as their sexual partners could potentially contract HIV and then transmit it to others.
Early treatment can suppress the virus to undetectable levels, which makes HIV untransmittable. The CDC considers any viral load of
During the early stages, which is known as primary infection or acute HIV infection, it can be much easier for a person to transmit HIV to others because levels of virus in the blood are very high.
A person should consider taking an HIV test if they experience these symptoms after the following activities:
- having sex without a condom or another barrier method
- injecting drugs
How Can I Get An Hiv Test
You can get a referral for an HIV test through your primary care provider, at a walk-in clinic, or by visiting one of the clinics listed in the SmartSexResource clinic finder:
You can also access HIV testing directly at certain lab location in B.C. For more information, visit GetCheckedOnline:
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Whats Next If The Test Is Positive
If a person gets a positive result, a qualified lab should retest the sample to make sure it was not inaccurate or have another sample tested. A positive result on a follow-up test means that a person has HIV.
Its recommended that people who test positive for HIV see a healthcare professional as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.
A medical professional can get a person with HIV started on antiretroviral therapy right away. This is a medication that helps stop HIV from replicating and can help prevent transmission of HIV to other people.
Its important to use condoms, dental dams, or other barrier methods with any and all sexual partners and refrain from sharing needles while waiting for test results or until the virus becomes undetectable in the blood.
Seeing a therapist or joining a support group, whether in person or online, can help cope with the emotions and health issues that come with an HIV diagnosis. Dealing with HIV can be stressful and difficult to discuss with even the closest friends and family.
Speaking privately with a therapist or being part of a community made up of others with the same medical condition can help a person understand how to lead a healthy, active life after diagnosis.
Should You Consider Preventive Medication
How quickly a person is able to see a healthcare provider after exposure to HIV can significantly affect their chances of contracting the virus.
If you believe youve been exposed to HIV, visit a healthcare provider within 72 hours. You may be offered an antiretroviral treatment called post-exposure prophylaxis that can reduce your risk of contracting HIV. PEP is typically taken once or twice daily for a period of 28 days.
PEP has little or no effect if taken more than
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How Can You Get An Anonymous Hiv Test
Anonymous HIV tests are free in Ontario. You do not need an Ontario Health Insurance Plan card or number to get an anonymous HIV test. To find an anonymous testing clinic in Ontario, you can contact the free, confidential Ontario AIDS & Sexual Health Infoline :
- English and a number of other languages: 416-392-2437 or toll-free in Ontario 1-800-668-2437
- French: toll-free in Ontario 1-800-267-7432
Types Of Hiv Tests And Their Window Periods
- Nucleic Acid Test A NAT can usually tell you if you have HIV infection 10 to 33 days after exposure
- Antigen/Antibody TestAn antigen/antibody test performed by a laboratory on blood from a vein can usually detect HIV infection 18 to 45 days after exposure. Antigen/antibody tests done with blood from a finger prick take longer to detect HIV .
- Antibody TestAn antibody test can take 23 to 90 days to detect HIV infection after an exposure. Most rapid tests and self-tests are antibody tests. In general, antibody tests that use blood from a vein detect HIV sooner after infection than tests done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid.
Ask your health care provider or test counselor about the window period for the test youre taking and whether you will need a follow-up test to confirm the results. If youre using a self-test, you can get that information from the materials included in the tests package.
If you get an HIV test after a potential HIV exposure and the result is negative, get tested again after the window period. Remember, you can only be sure you are HIV-negative if:.
- Your most recent test is after the window period
- You havent had a potential HIV exposure during the window period. If you do have an exposure, then you will need to be retested.
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Personal Stories About Considering Getting Tested For Hiv
These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.
My partner and I have been together a few months. I’ve had several HIV tests over the years and all were negative, including one I had in the beginning of our relationship. My partner said since I’m HIV-negative, he doesn’t need a test. But my doctor said that’s not true. He suggested that I talk to my partner about the kind of sex he had previously and ask him to get tested with me. I’m going to do that.
Kevin, age 25
I don’t plan to have a test now. I talked with my doctor at my last physical, and she said my risk of HIV was very low since I’m a widow and not sexually active.
Jocelyn, age 60
I’ve never had an HIV test, and I’m getting ready to start university. I fooled around some in high school, and sometimes we used protection. My mom and I talked, and I’ve decided to have a test. I’m pretty scared about doing something like that, but she says she’ll go with me.
Heather, age 18
Brian, age 45
Where Can I Get An Hiv Test
Depending on where you are in the world, there are a number of places that you can get tested for HIV. The best first step is to search online for “HIV testing, plus your location. This will generally give you a good idea of where to go, or at least give you a starting point.
If you have limited internet access, its always worth asking local sexual health charities or health professionals what is available in your area. They should be able to direct you to somewhere where you can test for free. The image below has some examples of the types of places that might offer HIV testing.
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Types Of Condomless Sex And Risk Of Hiv
During condomless sex, HIV in the bodily fluids of one person may be transmitted to the body of another person through the mucous membranes of the penis, vagina, and anus. In very rare cases, HIV could potentially be transmitted through a cut or sore in the mouth during oral sex.
Out of any type of condomless sex, HIV can most easily be transmitted during anal sex. This is because the lining of the anus is delicate and prone to damage, which may provide entry points for HIV. Receptive anal sex, often called bottoming, poses more risk for contracting HIV than insertive anal sex, or topping.
HIV can also be transmitted during vaginal sex without a condom, although the vaginal lining is not as susceptible to rips and tears as the anus.
The risk of getting HIV from oral sex without using a condom or dental dam is very low. It would be possible for HIV to be transmitted if the person giving oral sex has mouth sores or bleeding gums, or if the person receiving oral sex has recently contracted HIV.
In addition to HIV, anal, vaginal, or oral sex without a condom or dental dam can also lead to transmission of other STIs.
Protect Yourself From Hiv
The best way to protect yourself from HIV is to not have sex unless you’re in a relationship with only one person and you have both tested negative.
Here are other steps you can take to help prevent HIV:
- Use a latex condom with water-based lubricant every time you have vaginal or anal sex.
- If you share sex toys with your partner, use a condom and clean them between each use.
- Dont inject drugs or share needles.
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