HIV and AIDS
Ontario's HIV testing programs provide choice
Getting tested for HIV, and knowing your status, is an important health benefit. Ontario offers many choices in HIV testing.
Anonymous Testing Program
Anonymous testing is one of the three ways - along with nominal testing and non-nominal testing (See Testing by Healthcare Providers on this page) - that people in Ontario can be tested for HIV. In anonymous testing, the name or identity of the person being tested is not requested, recorded or reported. The test is ordered using a code known only to the person being tested.
Because of the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, some people are anxious about being tested. Anonymous testing offers them a way to be tested without revealing their identity. Although anonymous HIV testing sites do not ask for clients' names, they do ask for information about the person's age, gender and risk factors that is used to help understand how HIV is spreading.
Anonymous HIV testing is only offered at 50 anonymous testing sites across the province. Like all other types of HIV testing in Ontario, anonymous testing includes pre- and post-test counselling and referrals to other services and supports. For information on an anonymous testing site near you, call the AIDS and Sexual Health Info Line at:
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 - that is, the point of care test says you are not infected - you receive your results immediately. If you test reactive - that is, the result of the point of care test is not certain - 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.
Point of care HIV testing is available free at 50 sites across Ontario, including all anonymous HIV testing sites, some public health units' sexually transmitted infections clinics and some community health centres. For information on a POC testing site nearest you, call the AIDS and Sexual Health Info Line at:
Standard HIV 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.
Testing by Healthcare Providers
All doctors, nurse practitioners, and midwives in Ontario can order HIV tests. They can order the test using your name (nominal testing) or using a code (non-nominal testing) that they can link back to your name.
Prenatal HIV Testing Program
All pregnant women in Ontario are offered HIV testing as part of their pre-natal care. When pregnant women with HIV are diagnosed early, they can receive treatment for themselves and treatment for their babies. Prenatal testing has helped prevent more than 60 babies in Ontario from becoming infected. In the past, about 25 per cent of babies born to women with HIV were infected. With prenatal testing and treatment, fewer than two per cent of babies born to women with HIV are infected. See Prenatal Screening Program.