WHAT IS HIV: HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.
HIV is a virus that can weaken your immune system, the body’s built-in defense against disease and illness. You can have HIV without knowing it. That’s why it’s so important to get tested.
With proper treatment and care, people with HIV can live long and healthy lives and avoid passing HIV to others. In fact, a person living with HIV who is on successful treatment cannot pass HIV to their sex partners.
There is no vaccine to prevent HIV but there are things you can do to avoid passing or getting HIV.
WHO CAN ACQUIRE HIV:
Anyone can get HIV, no matter…
- your age
- your sex, gender or sexual orientation
- your race or ethnic origin
HIV can only be passed by these five body fluids:
- semen (including pre-ejaculate)
- rectal fluid
- vaginal fluid
- breast milk
HIV can be passed when one of these fluids from a person with HIV gets into the bloodstream of another person—through broken skin, the opening of the penis or the wet linings of the body, such as the vagina, rectum or foreskin. HIV cannot be passed through healthy, unbroken skin.
The two main ways that HIV can be passed are:
- through sex
- by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs (including steroids or hormones)
HIV can also be passed:
- to a fetus or baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
- by sharing needles or ink to get a tattoo
- by sharing needles or jewelry to get a body piercing
- by sharing acupuncture needles
HIV cannot be passed by:
- shaking hands, working or eating with someone who has HIV
- hugs or kisses
- coughs, sneezes or spitting
- swimming pools, toilet seats or water fountains
- insects or animals
Since November 1985, all blood products in Canada are checked for HIV, to ensure that it is safe to get a blood transfusion. And there is no chance of getting HIV from donating blood.
For more information on HIV transmission visit https://www.catie.ca/en/fact-sheets/prevention/hiv-transmission
Condoms at ACNBA: ACNBA offers a wide variety of different types of condoms, at no cost, for anyone who would like to access this prevention strategy. For more information on prevention through condoms visit; https://www.catie.ca/en/fact-sheets/prevention/condoms
What are condoms?
Condoms are physical barriers that can reduce the risk of a sexual exposure to HIV because they are made of materials that do not allow HIV to pass through them. This makes condoms a highly effective strategy to reduce the risk of HIV transmission when used consistently and correctly. They are much less protective if used inconsistently and/or incorrectly. Condoms also provide protection from other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
PREVENTION PRE-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS (PrEP)
ACNBA offers access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis medication (PrEP), for anyone who would like to access this prevention strategy. For more information on PrEP, visit; https://www.catie.ca/en/fact-sheets/prevention/pre-exposure-prophylaxis-prep
Oral pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a way for an HIV-negative person who is at risk of HIV infection to reduce their risk of getting HIV by taking antiretroviral drugs. The daily use of oral PrEP is approved by Health Canada to reduce the risk of the sexual transmission of HIV for people at high risk of HIV infection. Use of oral PrEP involves regular medical appointments for monitoring and support. Oral PrEP is a highly effective HIV prevention strategy when used consistently and correctly. It is generally safe and well tolerated, and is available by prescription in Canada.
PREVENTION: POST-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS (PEP):
PEP at ACNBA: ACNBA offers assistance to access to Post-Exposure Prophylaxis medication (PEP), for anyone who would like to access this prevention strategy. For more information on PEP, visit; https://www.catie.ca/en/fact-sheets/transmission/hiv-viral-load-hiv-treatment-and-sexual-hiv-transmission)
Post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, is a way to help prevent the transmission of HIV in an HIV-negative person who may have been recently exposed to the virus. It involves taking HIV medications as soon as possible after a potential exposure to HIV. Anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to HIV should contact their doctor, a hospital emergency room or sexual health clinic immediately to see if they offer PEP.
For more information on how to access condoms, PrEP, and PEP at ACNBA, please visit us at our office, 102-147 McIntyre St W or call (705) 497-3560.
HIV Testing at ACNBA: ACNBA offers different types of HIV testing for anyone who would like to access this service and encourages everyone to have testing completed to know their status. For more information on HIV testing or to schedule an appointment to have HIV testing provided by our clinical team please stop by our office or contact us at:
There are several steps in the HIV testing process. To access an HIV test, people can request a test or they may be offered a test. There are three types of HIV testing options that may be available: nominal (identifying/name-based) testing, non-nominal (non-identifying) testing, or anonymous testing. In all cases, a person must give their consent before having an HIV test.
A person should be given information or counselling about HIV before the test. Depending on the tests that are available, a blood sample is either sent to a laboratory for testing (“standard testing”) or it may be tested immediately at the testing site (“point-of-care testing”). If the blood is sent to a laboratory, the person may have to return at a later date to receive the result. With a point-of-care test, the person will receive the result within a few minutes.
HIV is a reportable disease in Canada so if someone tests positive for HIV, the result is reported to local public health authorities. Following an HIV test, a person can be linked to other services, including support, care, and prevention.
How can someone get an HIV test?
People can either voluntarily request an HIV test (voluntary HIV testing) or they may be offered a test by a healthcare provider without asking for it (provider-initiated testing). Provider-initiated testing can happen in a variety of routine care settings, such as pre-natal care, hospitals and doctors’ offices. In the case of an offer of a test, there are two approaches:
- Opt-in testing: a person is offered an HIV test and must actively accept testing before the test can occur.
- Opt-out testing: a person is notified that HIV testing is a part of normal care for everyone but they can decline. If they do not decline, assent to testing is assumed.
Many provinces and territories use both voluntary and provider-initiated approaches, varying the strategy based on the setting and population being served.