Basic Testing Information
What is the HIV Antibody Test?
- A blood test which tells you if you have been infected with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
- Your body produces antibodies to fight the HIV virus. The blood test tells you if you have these antibodies which show you are infected.
What does the test tell you?
- A positive antibody test means that you have been exposed to HIV and your immune system has responded to the infection – in short, it means that you have been infected with HIV (Babies born to HIV-antibody positive mothers may have antibodies to HIV without being infected. This will be checked by the doctor several months after birth.)
- If you are positive you can pass the virus to others
- It does not tell you when you were infected, what condition your immune system is in, or whether or not you will get sick
Is the test accurate?
- Most people develop antibodies to HIV within 14 weeks after infection
- Waiting 14 weeks after a high risk activity to get tested will help ensure the test’s accuracy
- If you test prior to 14 weeks a repeat test would be necessary to ensure your negative result
Talk to a counsellor before you get tested.
Making the choice to test for HIV is an important yet sometimes difficult decision.
A counsellor can talk to you about:
- How the virus is transmitted
- Your questions and concerns
- Deciding if it’s the right time for you to test
- How you might react if you tested positive
Who should get tested?
- Has had unprotected vaginal intercourse
- Has had unprotected anal intercourse
- Has shared needles (body piercing, steroid use, intravenous drug use)
- Has had a blood transfusion or received a blood product prior to 1986
- Is considering getting pregnant or donating semen or organs, and think there is a chance you might be at risk
The Bottom Line is…
If you have had unprotected sex or other risk in the past ten years, you should at least talk to a counsellor to find out whether the test is necessary.
Why you should get tested?
- relieve feelings of uncertainty
- opportunity to receive accurate information and obtain support
- if you are HIV positive you can begin action now to remain healthy
- reduce the possibility of more people being infected
What is anonymous testing?
- No identifiable information about you is taken (no name or health card)
- a number system or code is used to identify you
- No reporting test results. you are the only person who can identify your test result
Many physicians offer a “confidential” testing system using a number or your initials. This is not anonymous testing. If you test positive, your doctor can still report your name to the health department.
Why Test Anonymously?
- free testing, information, education, literature, support and resources
- your privacy is protected
- may be able to talk more openly with a counsellor about sexual and other risks if you know your name is not revealed
- fast access to testing
Where else can I get tested?
You can get tested at the “The Clinic” in the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit,
Your Family Doctor
- You can ask your family doctor for an HIV antibody test.
- S/he will need to report any positive test results to the Health Unit.
- S/he has the option of nominal testing (giving them your name so the Health Unit can do follow-up) or “non-nominal” testing (the Health Unit is told that someone in his/her practice tested positive but the doctor is responsible for post-test counselling and follow-up).