aidsnorthbay.com – AIDS Committee of North Bay & Area - To assist and support all persons infected or affected by HIV/AIDS and/or Hepatitis C and to limit the spread of the viruses through eduction, awareness and outreach strategies.

HIV Antibody Testing

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?

Anyone who:

  • 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

ANONYMOUS TESTING

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

Important:

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
  • non-judgmental
  • 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).