What Does HIV Testing Look Like in Canada After COVID?

At home self-test kits are now readily available for Canadians to test for HIV.

Health Sexual Health Sean Kivi

This article was published on July 5th, 2022

If you think about how life was before the pandemic your first thought might be peaceful. The COVID-19 global health pandemic has caused most people significant stress at some point since it was first reported in Wuhan China in December 2019. While the world has changed immensely, masks have become the norm, and traveling with two passports is usually required. 

Planning takes longer, and at home tests are no longer unknown.  If anything good has resulted from the virus, it’s our willingness to test ourselves at home for infectious diseases. We don’t need to go to the doctor to test for COVID, but did you know that you can also test yourself for many other at home diseases?

Here’s the thing. When gay people want to get tested for a disease there are many barriers they face. For starters, people who are gay and lesbian are more likely to be stigmatized in a healthcare setting. If you’re living in the city, it can be hard to imagine going to a doctor’s office and feeling uncomfortable about getting tested for an STD or even telling your doctor about your lifestyle. However, for some people telling the truth about their sex life and lifestyle isn’t as clear cut. 

For example, individuals living in rural areas may feel unsafe telling their doctor the truth about their orientation. And, the trans community faces far more stigma than any other group under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. It leads to less testing, healthcare, and preventative measures for any disease you could think of. 

Our community is hard hit by HIV and AIDS. The numbers don’t lie and we are disproportionately affected by the virus. In part, it could be because our promiscuity, but more likely it is because we face unseen challenges with testing and sex education during our formative years. 

If anything good has come from COVID it is most definitely learning about the ability to home test for many illnesses and diseases. Recently, Canada is making strides in home testing for HIV. 

An at home HIV test is a great option for safety and confidentiality. When you use a home test it means you’re taking the responsibility to keep yourself and others safe. We live in a world where doing so can be difficult, but an at home test takes the pain of going to the doctor, revealing your identity and other personally identifiable information meanwhile giving you an answer to a question that, as gay men, has entered our minds at one point or another.

There are a few things to know about a home HIV test. HIV is a finicky little fellow. He won’t infect you and show up immediately. Let’s see what a home test can help you find out for real. 

Whenever you go to the doctor to take an HIV test you have a few options. The first test, which is like many home tests, is an antibody test. When you take an antibody HIV test it means your blood will be tested for HIV antibodies. Sometimes, these tests can be inaccurate – but that’s only in rare cases and specialized circumstances. If you’ve been exposed to HIV recently and are in the process of seroconversion, which means your blood is becoming infected with HIV, these tests may not disclose your true status. 

Another test that could be given to you is to determine the type of HIV you have. Yes, there are two types – but usually in North America, type 1 is common. Type 2 is more often found in Africa. You can read more about the differences between HIV type 1 and type 2 if you’re interested, but these differences won’t affect a home test. 

The last type of HIV test you could be offered at a doctor’s office, which is not an option with a home test, is a test that looks for the virus. You only need this kind of test if you are in the process of seroconversion or have recently been exposed. 

For most people, an at home test will be effective and you can usually get them for free. Don’t put off knowing your status today. Knowing your status is going to help Canada reach an important goal. So, if you live in Canada here’s how you can help. 

UNAIDS has an ambition goal under the 95-95-95 strategy. The strategy aims to diagnose 95% of all HIV cases int he world, provide ART (antiretroviral therapy) to 95% of diagnosed HIV+ individuals and help them achieve viral suppression. Canada wants to meet this goal, and they need your help. 

Without testing regularly 95-95-95 is unobtainable for the country. It’s kind of a no-brainer. If people aren’t testing, we cannot diagnose people living with HIV. The goal isn’t to help people stick out, it is to help them live a longer, healthier life. 

Wondering how you could get your hands on of these free home HIV tests?  It’s simple. You can get one delivered to your house in a few clicks and gain the ultimate peace of mind while keeping yourself and those around you safe. 

Let us know in the comments below if you’d like to learn anything more about HIV or how to keep  yourself safe. 

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