Many people think that if they get an AIDS test and it comes out negative, they don’t have HIV and can’t give it to a partner.
In fact, a test that is done too soon may give a false result – and a false sense of security.
The HIV antibody test, also known as the AIDS test, is a blood test. It does not detect the virus. It measures the antibodies in your blood that your body makes to fight disease. It takes up to six months for your body to make these antibodies. At that point, the tests are more than 99% accurate.
A positive test means that antibodies have been found in the blood and that HIV is in the body. The test cannot tell when you became infected or if and when you will get sick. It only tells you that you have the virus.
If a person is tested before the antibodies show up, the test will be negative. If you are thinking of getting a test, remember that being tested too soon may give a false result.
You must ask to be tested for HIV antibodies. It is not done automatically when you give blood during a physical examination. You must give your consent to be tested.
It does not cost money to be tested for medical reasons. There may be a fee if the test is for a non-medical reason, such as getting life insurance or a foreign work visa.
Testing is available through a doctor's office or the following:
Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic
(confidential and anonymous testing available)
(anonymous testing available)
- HIV tests must be reported to the public health authorities in Alberta, so it is important to be aware of the different types of tests available:
Anonymous testing is where the results are linked to the person being tested by a code known only to them. Neither the nurse/doctor ordering the test nor anyone else knows the identity of the patient. Only the test results and any demographic information provided are reported to public health authoritie.
- Confidential (or non-nominal) testing is where the results can be linked to the person being tested. The nurse/doctor knows the identity of the person being tested, but keeps it confidential. The name of the person testing positive is not reported to public health authorities, only the test results and any demographic information provided.
- Nominal testing is testing where the results are linked to the person being tested by a personal identifier. Full personal information, test results and any demographic information provided are reported to public health authorities.