We know people who are considering an HIV test or waiting for test results experience a wide range of thoughts and emotions around the anxiety associated with testing positive and what that might mean.Take a deep breath.If you can’t share this with a friend you can contact one of our staff team to talk about your situation, we won’t even ask your name.We might even be able to alleviate some of your concerns.If you would like more information on how HIV is transmitted and risk check out our section on safer sex, safer drug use and safer tattooing & piercing.
If your test comes back negative, it is also a good time to discuss testing for other sexually transmitted infections and ways to reduce or eliminate risk in the future with your healthcare provider. If this isn’t feasible, feel free to give us a call or one of our partner agencies.
If your test comes back positive for HIV, you can talk with your healthcare provider about how to cope with the news, where in the community you can find support, and how to keep yourself healthy.You can also set up an appointment to come in and see us or another organization in Nova Scotia.
Getting tested is the only way to know your HIV status or that of any other STI or HCV. Once you know your status, you can take the necessary steps to keep yourself, and your partner(s) healthy.
AVERTing HIV and AIDS. AVERT is a UK-based webpage that offers extensive information on the types of HIV testing and testing options.
Types of HIV tests
As far as an HIV test goes, there are 3 types currently available in NS:
- Nominal: In a nominal test the tester’s name and identifying information are sent to the lab along with their blood sample. The test provider is legally obligated to report an HIV+ test results to public health officials.
- Non-nominal:The test provider uses a code when sending blood sample to lab.Public Health officials are only notified of tester’s identity if the results come back positive.
- Anonymous:There is no collection of personal information about the tester. Only epidemiological data (i.e. sex, age, etc) is sent to public health officials if the results are positive.
In Nova Scotia, you are able to access nominal and non-nominal testing through your family doctor, at your local hospital, or a walk-in medical clinic throughout the province.If you want non-nominal testing, make sure to let the doctor know. You have to ask for it specifically and if it gives you more comfort in the testing process, just ask.Currently, Nova Scotia only offers traditional testing options, which take from 1-2 weeks to access results unlike rapid (or instant, point of care) testing.
We know that everyone has fears about the possibility of receiving a positive test result; possibly even more challenging is the concept of notifying your partners or the people you have had sex with to follow up with an HIV test because they may be at risk.It’s important to know that you have some options.
Once you test positive for HIV, a public health nurse will only make contact if you inform your healthcare provider that you require assistance with notifying your partner. You can also ask the public health nurse to notify some, or all, of your contacts if it’s something you are uncomfortable doing.The nurse will not disclose personal information such as your name, etc., to anyone who is contacted for a follow-up test.The nurse will explain that the person has been identified by someone who tested ,HIV+ that they might be at risk and it’s recommended that they get tested for HIV and possibly other STIs.
Shortly after a new HIV diagnosis most people will receive a direct referral to the Infectious Disease Clinic in Halifax where you will be able to gain more information about your condition, and testing for things like your viral load, and access to treatment.
Notification and follow up for other STIs are somewhat different. In the case of Hepatitis C, Syphilis and Gonorrhea, once you test positive a public health nurse will contact you automatically. They will help you learn more about the condition, offer access to the appropriate resources for treatment, and follow up with others who may be at risk. In the case of Chlamydia, follow up is typically only done in cases where additional community supports are needed but is not required.
How to get tested
These are the organizations that offer anonymous HIV testing is widely inaccessible throughout much of Nova Scotia.
- The Halifax Sexual Health Centre: 9020455-9656
- AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia and the Youth Project: 902-429-5429 (through partnership with prideHealth)
- The Ally Center of Cape Breton in Sydney: 902-567-1766
Other testing options
You can access more information about local testing options at Public Health Offices throughout Nova Scotia if you are not sure what is available in more rural areas.
Capital Health (in Halifax) offers a STI clinic and information
Information on HIV testing and your rights
Youth-specific testing options
Testing and other services for youth in Cape Breton
Youth Health Centres (YHCs) are currently accessible in 52 locations across Nova Scotia. These centres provide young people with health education, information, referral, follow-up and support, as well as some clinical services. The majority of the centres are located in high schools across the province.