Testing sites in Vancouver and Surrounding Areas
For information on services available nationwide, please visit ASO411, an Internet-based tool that provides access to up-to-date information about HIV/AIDS and related services in Canada.
Getting tested for HIV
When testing an individual can choose between having nominal (your full and actual name) and non-nominal testing (only a number is attached to the lab request). Non-nominal testing will not be attached to your medical history but the clinic or test site will know your name.
Please check with our Helpline for places where one can do an anonymous test. An anonymous test is where you give made up initials. Note that it is up to you to receive your results.
Once a person has decided to test for HIV, the process should proceed as follows:
Pre-test counselling takes place.
A blood sample is collected and sent to a laboratory (if done at a testing site). If you go to your doctor or a clinic, they will give you a requisition to go to the lab to draw your blood.
Usually an ELISA aka EIA test is used at the lab to test for HIV antibodies.
Test results are usually available within one to two weeks (ten business days).
Any "reactive" test needs further testing (usually a Western blot test is used to confirm a positive result). A negative test is confirmed if done following the three month window period (after 12 weeks).
Post-test counselling should take place for either a positive or negative result.
All test results are confidential and must be delivered in person
You should not get your positive or negative result over the phone or by email. A positive test result means that you have HIV antibodies and are infected with HIV. A health care provider will give you information and options on what to do next and how to access services and support. A public health nurse follows up on every positive test result.
A negative test result means that you have not been exposed to HIV and you are not infected with HIV (provided you have not participated in a risk activity since testing). You now have the opportunity to learn and continue to practice HIV prevention, protecting yourself and others from STIs.
More questions about HIV testing?
Please call our Helpline at 604.696.4666 (Monday to Friday 9am-4pm) if you would like to talk to someone confidentially and anonymously about this information. You can also post a question on our Helpline forum. Whatever your concerns may be, our Helpline coordinator and volunteers will answer your questions promptly.