The HIV Test
If you think you’ve been at risk for HIV or another STI it’s a good idea to get tested. There is no other way to be sure of your status and take control of your health. Some doctor’s may try to tell you that you do not need a test, especially if you are a woman having sex with other women or are in a committed couple, but they cannot refuse you, so just insist.
When can I get tested?
After a high risk activity (the condom broke, you shared needles, you got caught up in the heat of the moment and forget your barrier) many people want to know their HIV results ASAP.
The problem is the test looks for the body’s response to HIV (antibodies) and not the virus itself. You must wait three months for test results to be 98% reliable, and wait six months for 100% accuracy. For other STIs you can get tested after about 3 weeks.
What happens when you take a test?
A nurse or doctor will talk to you and then draw a small sample of your blood to send to the lab. It will be analyzed for HIV antibodies using two different tests, each of which is done twice. For other tests, they will ask for a urine sample and may swab your anus, vagina, and/or mouth with a cotton swab.
The doctor will either call with your results, or you need to make an appointment one to three weeks later to get your results in person.
Many people find the waiting period difficult. It can help to talk to a trusted friend or visit ACCM for more information and support.
Where can I get tested?
You can get tested by your family doctor, at a clinic, or at a CLSC. Some clinics charge a small fee.
A confidential test and its results are included in your medical file. Only medical professionals are allowed to see it unless you give written permission. You do need to show it when you apply for insurance.
An anonymous test and its results are never included in your medical file.
In Montreal, anonymous testing is available at:
CLSC Metro – 1801 de Masonneuve West, Suite 300, 514-934-0354
CLSC des Faubourgs – 1250 Sanguinet, 514-527-2361
Other Montreal clinics:
Clinique l’Alternative – 2034 St.Hubert, 514-281-9848
Clinique l’Actuel – 1001 Maisonneuve East, Suite 1130, 514-524-1001
Clinique médicale 1851 – 1851 Sherbrooke East, Suite 101, 514-524-7564
With the HIV rapid test, you receive your results during the same visit. You don’t need to return 2 to 3 weeks later for your test results. The rapid test is not yet offered for free in the Quebec Public Health system. You may have to pay for it – contact testing sites for details. The rapid test is very accurate, with a 3 months window-period. This means the test will accurately detect your infection, if you’ve been infected 3 months ago or earlier. If you think you’ve been exposed more recently, consult your doctor or a testing site to discuss your options.