What Is An Hiv Test
If you have been exposed to HIV, one kind of HIV test can detect proteins made in your body called antibodies, but this will not detect a very recent infection. Another test can detect genetic material from the HIV virus before these antibodies develop, which indicates an acute infection. When either of these are detected, the HIV test result is reactive or positive, indicating the presence of the HIV virus.
Ninety nine percent of people who have been exposed to HIV will develop detectable levels of antibodies within 6 weeks. In very rare circumstances, it can take up to 3 months to develop antibodies to HIV following infection.
Reducing The Risk Of Hiv Transmission
The most effective way to prevent HIV transmission during sex is to use a condom. Get a condom ready before any sexual contact occurs, since HIV can be transmitted through pre-ejaculate, vaginal fluid, and from the anus.
Lubricants can also help reduce the risk of HIV transmission by helping to prevent anal or vaginal tears. The right lubricants also help prevent condoms from breaking. Only water-based lubricants should be used with condoms, because oil-based lube can weaken latex and sometimes cause condoms to break.
The use of a dental dam, a small plastic or latex sheet that prevents direct contact between the mouth and the vagina or anus during oral sex, is also effective at reducing the risk of HIV transmission.
For people who may have a higher risk for contracting HIV, preventive medication is an option. Pre-exposure prophylaxis medication is a daily antiretroviral treatment.
Everyone at increased risk of HIV should begin a PrEP regimen, according to a recent recommendation from the US Preventive Services Task Force. This includes anyone who is sexually active with more than one partner, or is in an ongoing relationship with someone whose HIV status is either positive or unknown.
Although PrEP does provide a high level of protection against HIV, its still best to use condoms as well. PrEP provides no protection against STIs other than HIV.
When Should You Get Tested For Hiv After Condomless Sex
Theres a window period between the time a person is first exposed to HIV and when it will show up on different types of HIV tests.
During this window period, a person may test HIV-negative even though theyve contracted HIV. The window period can last anywhere from ten days to three months, depending on your body and the type of test that youre taking.
A person can still transmit HIV to others during this period. In fact, transmission may even be more likely because there are higher levels of the virus in a persons body during the window period.
Here is a quick breakdown of different types of HIV tests and the window period for each.
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What Type Of Counseling Is Available During Testing
There are specific places that you can get tested for HIV. It is recommended that you get the HIV test done at a health clinic, at a doctors lab or at an HIV/AIDS voluntary counseling and testing site. When you attend to get tested, you will see a doctor, trained counselor, a nurse or some other health professional in private. He or she will explain what the test involves and what the result means. Counseling should be made available to all people getting HIV tests. If it is not, it can be requested. Counseling is important to help people deal with the results of their test, to discuss ways to keep themselves healthy, and to make them aware of the resources in their community.
How Do The Tests Work
Most HIV tests use a blood sample, either from a blood draw or finger prick. Others use saliva , but this is a little less accurate than blood tests.;
Some HIV tests look for the virus itself. But most look for the antibodies for HIV. Antibodies are part of the immune system and fight infections. When someone is infected with HIV, the body creates antibodies to fight HIV.
Testing results may be available that day or can take longer come back.;
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Hiv Testing Types And Lab Technologies
This chapter provides information regarding available testing technologies, approaches to testing and interpretation of results. There are many different types of HIV screening tests that are licensed for use in Canada and can vary by jurisdiction. For questions or information specific to your province or territory please contact your local Public Health laboratory.
Getting Your Hiv Test Results
Most HIV test results are available within a week.;
If the test result is negative, you may receive your results within a few days.
If the initial test result is positive, then additional testing to confirm the result needs to be performed in a reference laboratory and this can take up to a week to get a result.
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What Do The Results Mean
If you test HIV negative, it means that you do not have HIV.
However, depending on when you last had unprotected sex or shared drugs you may have to repeat the test to be sure of the result. This is because HIV cannot be detected by tests immediately after someone gets HIV. There is a period of time from when a person is exposed to HIV to the time when it can be detected by an HIV test . This means that sometimes, even if the first test is negative, the person doing the test may recommend you come back later for a second test to confirm the first result.
Ask the tester about how often you should test in the future. They will also be able to give you information about strategies to help you stay HIV negative, such as how to use condoms correctly, or the use of PrEP or PEP , both of which involve taking HIV medications to help prevent HIV transmission. Not all options are available or appropriate for everyone, so talk to the person about what is right for you. If you use drugs, you can be connected with harm reduction services in your area.
If you test HIV positive, it means that you have HIV. It can be a shock to learn you have HIV, but its important to know that people with HIV who are diagnosed early and get the right care, treatment and support can live long, healthy and full lives.
What Happens If The Test Is Positive
If you receive a positive result, you will want to work with your healthcare provider on a treatment plan. Your healthcare provider will determine how far HIV has progressed and recommend medicines to help you manage it.
You will also want to talk about your diagnosis with your sexual partner. If you and your partner have had unprotected sex, you could have transmitted the virus to them. They should get tested, too.
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Why Is Hiv Testing Important
Knowing your HIV status can help keep youand otherssafe.
If you are HIV negative:
Testing shows that you dont have HIV. Continue taking steps to avoid getting HIV, such as using condoms during sex and, if you are at high risk of getting HIV, taking medicines to prevent HIV . For more information, read the ClinicalInfo fact sheet on HIV prevention.
If you are HIV positive:
Testing shows that you have HIV, but you can still take steps to protect your health. Begin by talking to your health care provider about antiretroviral therapy . People on ART take a combination of HIV medicines every day to treat HIV infection. ART is recommended for everyone who has HIV, and people with HIV should start ART as soon as possible. ART cant cure HIV, but HIV medicines help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives.
A main goal of ART is to reduce a persons viral load to an undetectable level. An undetectable viral load means that the level of HIV in the blood is too low to be detected by a viral load test. People with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partner through sex.
Find Needle Exchange And Harm Reduction Programs
You can get free sterile harm-reduction supplies at over 35 needle exchange programs and over 370 access points across Ontario. Through these programs you can get:
- safer-injection equipment including:
Through these programs, you can also:
- safely dispose of both injection and crack smoking equipment
- get condoms
- get education and information
- get referrals and counseling
Find the closest needle-exchange and harm-reduction program by contacting a public health unit near you or call the AIDS and Sexual Health Info Line toll free at 1-800-668-2437.
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Where To Get Tested For Hiv
Getting an HIV test is easy. Tests for HIV and other STIs are confidential and available from your local doctor , or a sexual and reproductive health clinic.
It is a good idea to have some pre-test counselling. Before the test, talk with your doctor, nurse, or peer tester about any concerns, your level of risk, whether you are likely to be HIV-positive and what a positive result may mean.
Screening For Hiv In Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you’ll be offered a blood test to check if you have HIV as part of routine antenatal screening.
If untreated, HIV can be passed to your baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. Treatment in pregnancy greatly reduces the risk of passing HIV on;to the baby.
Page last reviewed: 22 April 2021 Next review due: 22 April 2024
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Recommendations For Hiv Testing
The purpose of this chapter is to make recommendations on who should be tested for HIV, and at what interval. The chapter also presents recommendations for increasing opportunities to offer HIV testing by integrating HIV testing with testing services for related infections and explores other possible occasions that evidence suggests may be effective in identifying undiagnosed cases. Additional provider and client resources, other HIV testing guidelines, and guidelines for HIV testing in specific contexts are provided in Chapter Five.
Who Will Know The Results Of My Testing
It depends on where you get your testing. Testing sites have different privacy rules. Ask about privacy rules at your testing site so you understand whether anyone else will know you got tested or see your results.
If you go to an anonymous test site, only you know the results. No written record of the test result is kept.
If you go to a confidential test site, the results will go in your medical record. Positive results are sent to the state or local health department. Your insurance company will have access to your results. Depending on the state you live in, your parent or guardian may be contacted.
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How Soon After Exposure To Hiv Can An Hiv Test Detect If You Are Infected
No HIV test can detect HIV immediately after infection. If you think youve been exposed to HIV, in the last 72 hours, talk to your health care provider about;post-exposure prophylaxis , right away.
The time between when a person gets HIV and when a test can accurately detect it is called the window period. The window period varies from person to person and also depends upon the type of HIV test.
Why Should Someone Get Tested For Hiv
If someone is infected with HIV, it’s important to know because:
- Starting medicines right away can keep a person stay healthy for a long time.
- There are ways to stop the spread of HIV to others, such as using a condom and taking medicines.
- A pregnant woman who is infected can get treatment to try to prevent passing HIV to her baby.
Another reason to get tested is peace of mind: A negative test result can be a big relief for someone who is worried about being infected.
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How Do Hiv Tests Work
When you get HIV, your immune system makes antibodies that try to fight off the infection. The most common type of HIV test looks for these antibodies in your blood or cells from your cheek.
It usually takes about 3 months for your body to make enough antibodies to show up on an HIV test, but it could be even longer. This time after you first get infected but wont test positive for HIV is called the window period. If you get tested during this time, you can get a negative result even if you do actually have HIV. You also have the biggest chance of giving HIV to other people during the window period.
What Is Hiv Testing
Several types of tests check your blood or other body fluids to see whether you’re infected. Most can’t spot HIV right away, because it takes time for your body to make antibodies or for enough of the virus to grow inside you.
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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
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.
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Where Can You Get Tested For Hiv
You can get an HIV test at many places:
- Your health care providers office
- Health clinics or community health centers
- STD or sexual health clinics
- Your local health department
- Substance abuse prevention or treatment programs
Many pharmacies and some community-based organizations also offer HIV testing.
HIV testing is covered by health insurance without a co-pay, as required by the Affordable Care Act. If you do not have health insurance, some testing sites may offer free tests.
These places can connect you to HIV care and treatment if you test positive or can discuss the best HIV prevention options for you if you test negative.
You can also buy a home testing kit at a pharmacy or online.
Hq Opens In Fall 2021 What If I Need An Hiv Test Right Now
HQ is partnered with GetaKit, a new project thats mailing out bioLyticals INSTI HIV Self-test kits, the only HIV self-test currently approved for use in Canada. GetaKit self-testing kits are available for eligible people in Ottawa, Durham, Simcoe Muskoka, and Toronto.
HIV testing and other sexual health services are also offered at the Hassle Free Clinic, located at 66 Gerrard St E, suite 200, Toronto.Call Hassle Free Clinic at 416-922-0566 during the Men & Trans Clinic hours to book an appointment for an HIV rapid test.
Express HIV testing at HQ will allow for rapid HIV testing and same-day results. Visitors to HQ can walk-in and register via express testing kiosks, and return visitors can connect with services on the online portal. From there, an HIV blood test will be drawn by on-site staff and assessed in HQs on-site laboratory. Results will be emailed to service users within hours. The express testing system allows for people to be immediately connected to HIV treatment and care, or to HIV prevention tools such as PrEP.
Testing is the only way to know if you have HIV. While testing can be scary, detection of HIV can allow you to start on HIV treatment and care. Early detection of HIV leads to better health outcomes.
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Who Else Should Get Hiv Tests
The CDC recommends that everyone between ages 13 and 64 get tested at least once even if you have no risk factors for HIV. Other people who should get tested at certain times or regularly include:
Pregnant women. HIV can be passed from mother to child in the womb. HIV testing is part of pregnancy care, but you have to agree to do it. If you test positive, antiretroviral therapy can protect your unborn baby from getting HIV. This works extremely well if you start treatment early.
People in a high-risk group. Get tested at least every 12 months if you inject drugs, work in the sex trade, have multiple sex partners, or do anything else that puts you at a higher risk.
If you are a sexually active gay or bisexual man, consider testing every 3 months. This is especially important if you donât know whether or not your partner or partners have HIV. Most infections happen in men who have sex with other men, and many donât know if they have HIV or not.
CDC: âTesting,â âHIV Risk Reduction Tool: The Window Period,â âHIV Risk Reduction Tool: Post-exposure Prophylaxis for Preventing HIV after Exposure,â âAn Opt-Out Approach to HIV Screening,â âHIV and Gay and Bisexual Men.â
NAM AIDSMap : âFalse negative results on HIV tests.â
HIV.gov: âHIV Testing Overview,â âHow Can You Tell If You Have HIV?â
San Francisco AIDS Foundation: âThe Questions about PrEP.â
GMHC: âHIV/AIDS Basics,â âThe GMHC Testing Center.â
Avert: “When to Get Tested for HIV.”