Getting an HIV test when you are ready can help you make decisions about your health. It should be your choice whether to have an HIV test.

Where can I get tested?

To find a testing site that meets your needs in British Columbia, check the clinic finder. To search somewhere else in Canada, try HIV411. Your family doctor can also perform an HIV test.

How does the test work?

A blood test is used to check for antibodies to HIV. If these antibodies are not detected, the HIV test result is negative. If these antibodies are detected, the HIV test result is positive, meaning there is an HIV infection.

If you get a negative result, but if it has been less than three months since you may have been exposed to HIV, you may need to test again because it is too early to detect the antibodies.

What types of tests are there?

There is a standard laboratory test, which requires blood to be drawn. Results are available in one or two weeks.

There is also a point-of-care test, which uses a drop of blood taken from your finger and quickly produces a negative or positive result on the spot. If the test indicates that HIV antibodies may be present, a standard laboratory test will be used to confirm the infection.

If I want to test, who will know the result?

Whenever a person tests positive for HIV, the result is reported to public health. At the time of testing, you can decide what information about yourself will be reported to public health if your test is positive for HIV:

  • Nominal: You can provide your full name, which will be reported to public health.
  • Non-nominal: You can provide your full name, but direct that the test result be reported to public health without your name.
  • Anonymous: At some public health clinics, you can use a false name, just your initials, or a numbered code, which will be reported to public health.