HIV testing can help women feel empowered to take control of their health. Recently, Ontarians have more options for how they can test, including HIV Self-Testing.
Testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBIs) is an important step, empowering women to connect with treatment and care, take control over their health, and prevent further transmissions. If you test negative, you can learn more about HIV prevention, including HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
In Ontario, it is recommended that you get tested for HIV as soon as possible after a potential exposure (this is a baseline test to assess if there was HIV present before the potential exposure), at 3 weeks after the exposure, and at 6 weeks after the exposure. A positive test at any of these time points indicates HIV infection. A negative result at all three of these time points rules out HIV infection from that exposure.
For more information about Ontario’s newly released HIV Testing Guidelines, see Ontario Guidelines for Providers offering HIV Testing (2023).
What to Know Before Testing
Before getting an HIV test, it is important to understand the different types of tests available, the possibility of a positive test result, and HIV treatment options. In Ontario, there are five types of tests available:
Unlike the other tests, this new type of test, which was newly approved by Health Canada in November 2020, is a do-it-yourself test. This means you follow instructions to collect your blood sample, conduct the test, and interpret the result. You can do this wherever you want with whomever you want. If the test indicates “positive”, the result needs to be confirmed by getting a standard HIV test. For more information about this test, and where to get it, click here.
STANDARD HIV TEST
A sample of your blood is taken and sent to a public health laboratory with your name.
A sample of your blood is taken and sent to a public health laboratory with a code so that your personal information is kept anonymous. Anonymous testing is available at 50 locations across Ontario, mostly sexual health clinics and community health centres. Physicians and Walk-in clinics do not offer anonymous testing. To find the nearest anonymous site to you, contact Sexual Health InfoLine Ontario.opens in a new window
POINT OF CARE TEST
A sample of your blood is taken and tested while you wait. If your test is negative, you will learn the results immediately (about 30 minutes). If your test is reactive, your blood sample is sent to a public health laboratory for Standard HIV Testing to confirm the test results. Point of Care testing is available at over 40 locations across Ontario, mostly at sexual health clinics and community health centres. Many locations offer Point of Care testing anonymously.
For women who are pregnant, testing should be offered as part of pre-natal care. This is usually a Standard HIV Test. It is important to be aware of treatment and care options for pregnant women and newborn babies.
When and How?
CENTRING WOMEN’S EXPERIENCES
"Women need HIV testing to be offered in spaces that work for them, and by staff who understand the many different factors that impact their lives. Women who use drugs, Indigenous women, Trans women - all benefit from testing options that work in their communities and with the support of people they trust."
— Service Provider, Ontario