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Deciding to take the HIV test

Generally, the earlier you know that you are infected with HIV, the earlier you can take action to stay healthy. The early intervention approach is a fairly new way of dealing with HIV. In the past, many people believed that there was little they could do if they were tested positive for HIV.

Now, however, there are many known ways of helping people who are infected with HIV to stay healthy and enjoy a productive life. It is your decision whether or not to take the HIV test.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 November 2008 12:57
Pre- and Post-Test Counseling

Both pre- and post-test counseling are essential because it is important to have a clear understanding of what the test is and what its implications may be, in order to be able to make informed choices.

If you test HIV positive, there may be many decisions you will need to make. For example, it is important to learn about safer sex practices and the different types of treatment options that are available. Also, it is important to know that you have protection under the human rights act in relation to certain social and legal issues. It may not be easy to make some of these decisions, but at APAA, we can help!

When To Get Tested

Usually, HIV antibodies start to appear in the blood around 14 weeks after an individual has been infected with HIV. In rare cases, it may take longer than 14 weeks for HIV antibodies to appear in human blood.

Therefore, it is recommended to wait for 14 weeks after you have been exposed to the virus before being tested. This wait period is recommended whether or not the exposure occurred during unsafe sex with someone who is infected, or while sharing needles with someone who is infected, or through another known means of transmission.
If the test results are negative, the test may be repeated after six months from the time of exposure, provided that the person being tested does not engage in any risky activities during that six month period.

The HIV Antibody Test

This test is often referred to as, 'the AIDS test'. In reality, however, this is an antibody test, not a test for the virus. The HIV test is available to anyone, so long as they give their consent to having it done.
Antibodies are produced in the blood by the immune system whenever someone has an infection. HIV antibodies are found in the blood of most individuals, but not all, who have been infected with the HIV virus. Small samples of blood are taken and then sent to the Ministry of Health's laboratory where they are tested for the presence of HIV antibodies. HIV tests are free in Canada; therefore an Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) health card number is not required.