An HIV and test is for anyone and everyone and it’s always important to know you’re status. About 50% of people who are infected with HIV in Toronto’s Black community, don’t know it. It is true that it’s more important for some people to test more regularly than others, depending on what risk behaviours they’re engaged in (e.g. sexual intercourse without condoms) or are exposed to (i.e. healthcare professionals). Regardless, you should always be aware of your HIV status.
If you’re HIV negative, testing is a great way to have some peace of mind. You’ll know you have one less thing to worry about. If you have been practicing unsafe sex however, and still get a negative test result, it doesn’t mean that you are invincible from HIV. It means that you were lucky; a lot of people were not. Don’t take it for granted, because one day your luck might just run out.
If you are HIV positive then testing regularly allows you to detect the presence of HIV early on. Early detection of HIV means:
- A longer more manageable life as you will have more treatment options, as your immune system is stronger.
- Being aware of your status gives you an opportunity to learn how to care for yourself in order to avoid opportunistic infections.
- You can take precautions to prevent being re-infected with a different strain of HIV, which can complicate you treatment options.
What does the HIV testing procedure look like?
There are two main HIV tests currently available in Ontario: The traditional HIV test, and the rapid HIV test.
The traditional HIV test requires a blood sample be taken and it tested at a medical laboratory. Results can take up to 2 weeks before they get back to the test site.
Rapid/Point of Care Test Procedure
In Canada, the only approved ‘Rapid Test’, is the one that uses a small sample of your blood.
For the rapid test, only a small sample of blood (1 or 2 drops are used in the process). A vial of blood is also taken. This is used to perform the confirmatory test to rule out false positive/negatives (i.e. to ensure that the result obtained during the rapid test, is correct)
When I go for an HIV test is there any way to test without using my real name?
When you go for an HIV test, there are 3 ways to go about it. The way you choose depends on how much information you want to give out.
1. Nominal Testing:
- This is they type of testing offered at numerous locations, including clinics, family doctors etc.
- The person ordering the test knows the identity of the person being tested for HIV.
- The HIV test is ordered using the name of the person being tested.
- Your information, such as age, gender, address, your doctor’s name, the amount of information collected is dependent upon the province/territory.
- If the HIV test result is positive, your doctor is legally obligated to notify public health officials of the positive test result.
- The test result is recorded in the health care record of the person being tested.
2. Non-nominal (non-identifying) Testing:
Similar to nominal testing except:
- The HIV test is ordered using a code or the initials of the person being tested (not the full or partial name).
3. Anonymous Testing:
- Available only at specific clinics, organized and supported by Toronto Public Health, Ontario Ministry of Health and by some health care providers.
- The person ordering the HIV test does not know the identity of the person being tested for HIV.
- The HIV test is carried out using a code. The person ordering the HIV test and the laboratory carrying out the testing on the blood sample do not know to whom the code belongs. Only the person being tested for HIV knows the unique, non-identifying code.
- Information such as age, gender, HIV-related risk factors and the ethnicity of the person being tested for HIV may be collected during anonymous testing, depending on the province or territory in which the test is ordered or on the test site.
- Test results are not recorded on the health care record of the person being tested. It is only the person being tested who may subsequently decide to give his or her name and include the HIV test result in the medical record.