You can now have an anonymous HIV test at Hassle Free Clinic in one of two ways. Both tests are by appointment only, and include pre- and post-test counselling.
We take a sample of blood from your vein and send it to an Ontario Ministry of Health lab. We get the result back from the lab one to two weeks later. You must return to the clinic to get your result.
We take a drop of blood by pricking your finger. We test it at the clinic while you wait. You get your result in five to ten minutes.
You may choose either test, but you can choose only one.
Both screening tests are over 99.5 per cent accurate, but the testing methods are different. There are a few things you should know before you decide which test to take.
With standard testing, if the first (screening) test is positive for HIV, the Ontario Ministry of Health lab does a second (confirmatory) test before sending us the result. When you return to the clinic, we tell you the final, confirmed result.
With rapid, on-site testing, if the test we do here at the clinic is negative, no further testing is necessary. But, if the on-site test is positive, we must confirm the result by taking a tube of blood from your vein and sending it to the Ontario Ministry of Health lab. In that case you may have to wait for up to a week for your final (confirmed) test result.
The first rapid HIV test for use outside laboratory settings was approved by Health Canada in 2000, and was used by Hassle Free Clinic for six months ending in April 2002.
However, some researchers found that the test being used at that time may have given some false negative results. There was no question about the accuracy of positive tests, which were all confirmed by further lab testing.
Health Canada recalled the test, and efforts were made to inform any individual who had tested negative on this test to seek repeat testing to be sure of his or her HIV status.
A new rapid test (manufactured by a different company) has now been approved by Health Canada after extensive clinical trials. Health Canada has assured us that this test is accurate.