HIV/AIDS Quick Notes
* Is there something that you are concerned about that is causing you to ask about being tested?
* Test: The correct test to determine if you have been infected with HIV is an HIV antibody oral or blood test.
* Window Period: You should wait three months from when you were last exposed to HIV to get a test that can be considered conclusive. You can get tested earlier than three months to determine if you have already become HIV+, but the test is not conclusive until three months from when you were last possibly exposed.
Medication to REDUCE the risk of HIV Infection
PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)—taken before exposure
PREP is a drug called Truvada that you take once each day, at the same time each day, without missing a dose. It requires a prescription. When taken properly, it is highly effective against getting infected with HIV. But it does NOT protect people from other STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) or pregnancy, so it should be used along with condoms. When someone first starts taking PrEP, it can take about seven days before it builds up enough in your system to be effective in preventing HIV infection. If you stop taking PrEP, you are no longer protected. The long-term effects of taking PrEP are not yet known. NOTE: We do not have specific insurance/pricing information. If a caller is interested in PrEP, they can speak to their doctor (if comfortable), or an HIV clinic (find in database).
PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis)—taken after exposure
If you have been exposed to HIV within the past 72 hours (3 days), you should seek medical attention (like urgent care or your doctor) ASAP to determine if PEP can be used to lower the risk of becoming infected with HIV, but it is not 100% effective. PEP is not an option after 72 hours.
PEP should only be used for emergency situations, and the sooner it is started within the 72 hour window, the better. Once prescribed, PEP is taken once or twice a day for 28 days. NOTE: We do not have specific insurance/pricing information. If a caller is interested in PEP, they can speak to their doctor (if comfortable), urgent care, or an HIV clinic (find in database).
We recommend the use of new, latex condoms, combined only with the use of water-based lubricant to reduce the risk of HIV most effectively. The use of other types of lubricant with latex condoms can deteriorate the latex. Please also note that condoms do not eliminate HIV risk completely, mainly because they are sometimes misused, or can be defective or broken.
For oral sex on a vagina, you may use a latex condom which has been cut open, if dental dams are unavailable.
Dental dams are a thin sheet of latex which are an appropriate, effective barrier against HIV when used properly.
More research has to be done to be conclusive about whether internal/female condoms are effective enough in preventing HIV infection in vaginal or anal sex. For this reason, we currently do not recommend their use over regular latex condoms.
Latex gloves are not an effective barrier against HIV infection.
Testing Fast Facts:
There is a “window period” for testing, which means that it takes up to 3 months before someone can get an accurate result on an HIV test. So, test results don’t count for anything that happened in the 3 months before the person was tested.
The HIV tests that we recommend are HIV-antibody tests. These involve a quick finger prick for a blood test (which is nearly painless) or a cheek swab.
It is important to get your testing done by a medical professional either at a doctor’s office or clinic because you’ll have immediate support, answers to any questions you may have, and a reliable result. So while there are at-home tests which can be highly accurate, being tested by medical professionals is the best option.
The results for an HIV test take about 20 minutes. NOTE: If in Canada, blood tests done by a medical professional are the only option in most provinces, and can take up to two weeks to process results. The window period is often shorter than 3 months for this type of test, so we recommend talking to a medical professional to know when to get tested.
Get tested regularly (every 3 to 6 months if having medium-to-high risk sex).
I got a negative HIV test result! What now?
It’s great news to get a negative HIV test result, however it is important to not start putting yourself at risk because of it.
I got a positive HIV test result. What now?
My partner told me they are HIV negative/I know my partner is HIV negative:
We suggest that you are as safe as possible each time you are sexually active, even if you’re with the same person on a regular basis.
We cannot confirm someone else’s status, and so it is always safest to assume that your partner(s) have been exposed to HIV at some point in the past, and to practice safe sex consistently.
I don’t want to practice safe sex.
As long as there is consent between everyone involved, ultimately, it is up to you and your partner(s) what you engage in sexually, and whether you practice safe sex. If you’re interested in HIV information, we’re happy to offer that, but it’s up to you whether you choose to use it.
I am sexually active with someone other than my partner, and I do not want to tell them.
Consent and safety are our priorities at this organization, so I’d like to make sure you know that there are health risks for your partner and potential legal risks for you for endangering your partner’s health.