Testing Options

mainpic_testingOptions_enAs with all health records, HIV testing is confidential. In Ontario, HIV positive lab results are reportable to your local public health unit. However, depending on the way you are tested, your name may not be linked to the blood test (see below), or only your health care provider can link your name to the test result (see below).

Anonymous HIV testing is when a person is assigned a random code, and they are tested using that code and their year of birth. Their name is not required in order for the test to be done. The test result will come back from the lab with this code and the year of birth. The local public health unit will also get a copy of the positive result. Follow-up is carried out by the test site and the client. The local public health unit will not have the name of the patient. Only specific clinics can offer anonymous testing. Call the AIDS and Sexual Health InfoLine at 1-800-668-2437 (English and multilingual line) or 1-800-267-7432 (French line) for information on testing clinic locations and hours.

HIV testing is also done in one of the following formats:

  • Nominal test: The name of the person being tested is written on the blood sample and the lab requisition paper. The test result will come back from the lab with the patient’s name and date of birth. The local public health unit will also get a copy of any HIV positive result and follow up with the health care provider that did the test. They have to make sure that all of the person’s partners are told that they should be tested. The name of the person who was diagnosed with HIV is not given to any partners. The person with HIV will also receive supportive counselling, health information and referrals.
  • Non-nominal test: Instead of the person’s name, an identifying code is written on the blood sample and lab requisition paper. The test result will come back from the lab with this code and the date of birth. This code can only be linked to the patient’s name by the health care provider who ordered the test. The local public health unit will also get a copy of the HIV positive result (with the code only), and will then follow up with the health care provider who ordered the test to ensure that all of the person’s partners are told that they should be tested. The name of the person who was diagnosed with HIV is not given to any partners. The person with HIV will also receive supportive counselling, health information and referrals. This testing format is not available in all areas of Ontario, and in some cases the public health unit will collect the client name and other information from the health care provider. Speak with your health care provider or call the AIDS and Sexual Health InfoLine at 1-800-668-2437 (English and multilingual line) or 1-800-267-7432 (French line) for testing options.

Types Of Tests

Standard HIV testing involves collecting a blood sample, usually from a person’s arm, and then submitting that blood sample to a laboratory for testing. Results can take up to three weeks.

Rapid/Point of Care (POC) HIV testing involves collecting a drop of blood by pricking a person’s finger. The sample is tested in the clinic, and results are usually available in a few minutes. A point of care HIV test is a screening test only. If the test is “reactive”, they must then do a standard test to confirm the reactive result. Only specific clinics offer point of care testing. If a POC test is negative and outside the HIV “window period”, the person does not need to confirm the negative result.

Depending on the services offered by a clinic, both standard testing and point of care testing may be offered nominally, non-nominally or anonymously (see above).

For more information call the AIDS and Sexual Health InfoLine at 1-800-668-2437 (English and multilingual line) or 1-800-267-7432 (French line) or check out the Resourcessection of this site.