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
Why Do I Need To Get Tested For Hiv
The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested. Many people with HIV dont have any symptoms. In the United States, about 1 in 7 people who have HIV don’t know they have it.
Once youve gotten tested for HIV:
- If you dont have HIV , you can take steps to make sure you stay HIV-free
- If you have HIV , you can take steps to have a healthier future you can also take steps to protect other people
Live longer with HIV by getting treatment early.
If you have HIV, early treatment can help you live a long, healthy life. Its important to get early treatment for HIV even if you dont feel sick. The sooner you get care for HIV, the better.
If you have HIV and you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, learn how to prevent passing HIV to your baby.
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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Should You Get Tested For Hiv If Youre Pregnant
All pregnant women should be tested for HIV so that they can begin treatment if they’re HIV-positive. If a woman is treated for HIV early in her pregnancy, the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby can be very low. Testing pregnant women for HIV infection, treating those who are infected, and treating their babies with antiretroviral therapy after delivery have led to a big decline in the number of children born with HIV.
The treatment is most effective for preventing HIV transmission to babies when started as early as possible during pregnancy. If pregnant women are treated for HIV early in their pregnancy, the risk of transmitting HIV to their baby can be 1% or less. However, there are still great health benefits to beginning preventive treatment even during labor or shortly after the baby is born.
Learn more about how to protect yourself and your partners, and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC’s HIV Risk Reduction Tool .
How Often Should You Get Tested For Hiv And Stds
Test at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Testing should be more frequent for those who have multiple or anonymous partners (e.g. The frequency of the visit varies from 3 to 6 months. The need for HIV testing at least once a year and the possibility of receiving more frequent HIV testing (e.g. The frequency of the visit varies from 3 to 6 months.
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Does Hiv Always Show Up On Testing
No, if someone was recently infected, it might not show up with testing. How quickly HIV shows up on testing depends on the type of test done:
- Testing that looks for the virus itself can find HIV 728 days after infection.
- Testing that looks for HIV antibodies can find HIV antibodies 312 weeks after infection.
Im Pregnant When Should I Test
Testing for HIV during your pregnancy is very important. Left undiagnosed and untreated women living with HIV can pass the virus on to their unborn babies. In most countries, HIV tests are a routine part of the care women receive during pregnancy . Partners of pregnant women should also get tested during this time.
The earlier you test in your pregnancy the better. You’ll usually be tested in your first appointment, ideally before your tenth week. These tests should be repeated, either every three months or at least once again in your third trimester.
Your doctor will tell you everything you need to know about HIV testing alongside the other blood tests they do during pregnancy.
If you find out you are positive, youll be given treatment to prevent passing HIV on to your child. The earlier you start treatment, the greater the chance your child will be born HIV-negative. Check out our section on Pregnancy, childbirth & breastfeeding for more information.
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What Kinds Of Hiv Tests Are Available 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 will 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 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.
Another testing approach that will soon be available in Canada is HIV self-testing, where a person can collect a sample of their own blood, perform the test and interpret the results. If someone has a reactive test result with a self-test, then they will have to get a standard HIV test so the result can be confirmed by a laboratory. An HIV self-test is currently being researched in Canada and is likely to become available at some point in 2020 for purchase and use.
A word on the window period
How Often Do I Need To Get Tested For Hiv
Everyone ages 15 to 65 needs to get tested for HIV at least once. All pregnant women also need to get tested. People at higher risk for HIV infection may need to get tested more often.
Talk to your doctor or nurse about how often you need to get tested.
Get tested for HIV at least once a year if you’re at higher risk.
For example, you may be at higher risk for HIV if you:
- Are a man who has sex with men
- Have sex with someone who has HIV
- Use drugs with needles
- Have sex in exchange for things, like drugs or money
- Have more than 1 sex partner who could have HIV
- Have another STD
If you’re a man who has sex with men, you may need to get tested even more often like every 3 to 6 months. Talk to your doctor or nurse about what’s best for you.
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How To Get Tested For Hiv
Although there is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS, Ontario offers a number of testing and treatment programs. These programs help people with HIV/AIDS live for many years after contracting the disease.
All doctors, nurse practitioners and midwives in Ontario can order HIV tests. There are three types of tests:
- standard HIV testing: a sample of your blood is taken and sent to a public health laboratory
- anonymous testing: the test is ordered for you and your results are provided using a code known only to you. Anonymous HIV testing is offered at 50 locations in communities across Ontario
- point of care testing: your blood is tested while you wait. If you test negative for HIV/AIDS, you will learn your results immediately. If you test reactive, your blood sample will be sent for standard testing
Does There Have To Be Consent To Have An Hiv Test
HIV testing must only be performed after a person gives consent that is explicit, informed and voluntary.
It is understood in Canada that respecting and protecting peoples rights needs to be central to HIV testing. HIV testing is voluntary in Canada, meaning that a person is free to accept or refuse an HIV test without threat or coercion. Under no circumstances should the person be pressured to receive an HIV test.
What is informed consent?
A person being tested for HIV must provide informed consent. To be able to provide informed consent, the person must be able to:
A pre-test discussion should ensure that the person being tested is able to provide informed consent. The Public Health Agency of Canadas HIV Screening and Testing Guide recommends that verbal informed consent be sufficient, as with other medical tests.
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What Is An Hiv Test
An HIV test shows whether you are infected with HIV . HIV is a virus that attacks and destroys cells in the immune system. These cells protect your body against disease-causing germs, such as bacteria and viruses. If you lose too many immune cells, your body will have trouble fighting off infections and other diseases.
There are three main types of HIV tests:
- Antibody Test. This test looks for HIV antibodies in your blood or saliva. Your immune system makes antibodies when you are exposed to bacteria or viruses, like HIV. An HIV antibody test can determine if you have HIV from 312 weeks after infection. That’s because it can take a few weeks or longer for your immune system to make antibodies to HIV. You may be able to do an HIV antibody test in the privacy of your home. Ask your health care provider about at-home HIV test kits.
- HIV Antibody/Antigen Test. This test looks for HIV antibodies and antigens in the blood. An antigen is a part of a virus that triggers an immune response. If you’ve been exposed to HIV, antigens will show up in your blood before HIV antibodies are made. This test can usually find HIV within 26 weeks of infection. The HIV antibody/antigen test is one of the most common types of HIV tests.
- HIV Viral Load. This test measures the amount of the HIV virus in the blood. It can find HIV faster than antibody and antibody/antigen tests, but it is very expensive. It is mostly used for monitoring HIV infections.
Connecting To Supports In Your Community
After you get tested for HIV, it can be an opportunity to learn about resources available in your community that can support your health and well-being. Some challenges in peoples lives can make it difficult to stay healthy. If you test positive, think about whether you might have difficulty consistently taking HIV treatment and taking steps to prevent passing HIV. For example, it can be hard to look after your health if you are dealing with mental health issues, challenges with drugs or alcohol, unstable housing or domestic violence. If you test negative, think about if there is anything in your life that might make it difficult for you to take steps to prevent getting HIV. If you are dealing with challenges like these, talk to a healthcare provider or community worker. They may be able to help you or refer you to someone else in your community who can help you. Getting help with these things can improve your well-being and can make it easier to take steps to prevent getting or passing HIV, and to take treatment if you are living with HIV.
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Can A Blood Test Detect Hiv After 3 Weeks
In HIV antibodies tests, these antibodies are found in your blood or oral fluid to indicate HIV infection. An antibodies test can detect infection within three weeks of being developed. The majority of people will develop detectable antibodies within 3 to 12 weeks of infection, but not all will develop detectable antibodies.
Why Should You Get Tested For Hiv
The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested.
Whatever the result of your test, knowing your HIV status is important for your health. It also gives you the information you need to help you decide what HIV prevention methods you may want to use.
If you have HIV, it is better for your health if you are diagnosed and start treatment as early as possible.
If you test negative for HIV, knowing your status can give you peace of mind. You can then also think about what you can do to prevent getting HIV, such as taking PrEP.
What should you think about when youre deciding where to get an HIV test?
Getting an HIV test can be stressful for some people. Before you get tested, think about where you would feel most comfortable getting a test and finding out your result. Many people get an HIV test from their family doctor, but there are alternatives you can consider, such as going to a sexual health clinic or taking a self-test. If you decide to get a test from a healthcare provider or community worker, try to find somewhere to do the test where you feel comfortable talking openly. If you decide to do a self-test, think about if you want to have someone else present when you take the test. Whatever type of test you get, it is a good idea to think about who you will talk to if the test result is positive.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv
Most infected people experience a short illness, similar to flu, two to six weeks after coming into contact with HIV.
These symptoms, which 80 per cent of infected people experience, are a sign that their body is trying to fight HIV. They include:
- Recurrent infections
- Serious, life-threatening illnesses
Taku Mukiwa, Head of Health Programmes at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: For the very first time there are more heterosexuals than gay and bisexual men being diagnosed with HIV.
“Heterosexuals also saw a far steeper drop in testing for HIV during the Covid-19 lockdown and are far more likely to be diagnosed late.
“Thats why we need to see more heterosexuals getting tested to avoid anyone living with undiagnosed HIV for a long time.
“This is important for their own health as well as for efforts to stop HIV being passed on as the vast majority of people get HIV from someone who is unaware they have it.
Experts at the charity said that a lack of heterosexual men getting HIV tests is likely driven by a belief that they are not at risk of HIV which is often reinforced by healthcare professionals.
They added that increased HIV testing is crucial as it’s estimated that around five per cent of people living with HIV in the UK are unaware.
We encourage everyone to take up the offer of a free test, only by knowing your HIV status can you be empowered to take action
Kate FolkardInterim Deputy Director of the HIV Division at the UKHSA
Use Prep And Looking To Do Your Routine Check
If you take PrEP and are looking to do your quarterly check-up, its recommended to get tested with a healthcare professional so that a comprehensive sexual health check can be done. This consists of testing for HIV, STIs and checking kidney function which cant be done with any of the at-home or the HIV self-testing options available such as you, DBS or HIV self-testing kits as they only test for HIV.
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Where To Access Testing Services
Standard HIV testing can generally be accessed through any health provider across the country. Each province is responsible for licensing the laboratories that provide HIV screening and confirmatory testing in its jurisdiction. In general, all provincial Public Health Laboratories provide both screening and confirmatory testing. Reference and specialized services, when required, are provided by the National HIV Reference Serology Laboratory after consultation with the provincial laboratory. It is advisable to contact your testing laboratory to confirm the specimen collection details.
Anonymous or POC testing locations can be found by calling a local HIV/AIDS hotline .
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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Do I Have To Take These Tests
You could have caught any of these infections years ago and not know it. Most people who have these infections don’t know that they have them since they don’t have symptoms. These tests are offered to you for your own health and the health of your baby.
You can choose to not have the tests done. However this decision could hurt your baby.