There are a few things you need to know before taking an HIV test. Screening tests are over 99.5% accurate, but the testing options and methods are different depending on the testing location. Regardless of the option and method available at your location, you should receive both pre and post-test counselling.
The goal of pre- and post-test counselling is to provide information about HIV testing, prevention and services that will help someone assess their risk, make an informed decision to be tested, learn how to take precautions to protect themselves and others from exposure or re-exposure to the virus, and find out where to go for additional information or support.
Nominal and Non-Nominal HIV Testing
The test is completed using your name (nominal testing) or using a code (non-nominal testing) that can link back to the tester.
Standard HIV Antibody Blood Testing
Standard HIV testing is done by taking a blood sample and sending it to the public health laboratory. It can take up to two weeks to get the results, and you have to return to your healthcare provider or clinic to receive the results.
Point of Care HIV Testing
Point of care testing is done by pricking your finger and testing your blood while you wait. If you test negative – you receive your results immediately. If you test reactive – the clinic will take a blood sample and send it to the public health laboratory for standard testing. It can take up to two weeks to get the final results and you will have to return to the clinic to get your results.
If you have concerns regarding who can have access to your tests results, it is important to ask your testing location about their privacy policies and whom they are required to report a positive result to.