What is HIV?

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus
     
  • A virus that attacks the body’s immune system (your body’s built in defense again illness and infection), leaving it vulnerable to opportunistic infections and cancers
     
  • HIV is a blood borne pathogen present in most bodily fluids (blood, semen (including pre-cum), rectal fluid, vaginal fluid and breast milk).  It is transmitted from person to person by:
    • Sexual contact 
    • Sharing needles and drug paraphernalia (including crack pipes)
    • Blood and blood product transfusions (all products are now screened in Canada)
    • Childbirth and breastfeeding
    • Needle stick injuries
       
  • There is no cure for HIV, but there is treatment.  HIV treatment can slow this process and allow people with HIV to live longer, healthier lives
     
  • Without treatment your immune system can become too weak to fight infection or serious illness, leaving your body susceptible to life-threatening illness.  The most serious stage of HIV infection is AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

For more information on HIV/AIDS:

Public Health Agency of Canada – What is HIV/AIDS?
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/aids-sida/info/

The Body – What is HIV?
http://www.thebody.com/content/art49930.html

AIDS Map – HIV Basics
http://www.aidsmap.com/hiv-basics/HIV-AIDS/page/1412437/

CATIE – The Basics
http://www.catie.ca/en/basics/hiv-and-aids#what

HIV Testing

There are various methods of HIV testing offered in Vancouver:

  • HIV Serology – regular blood draw.  Results take approx 1 week
  • Rapid HIV test – finger prick.  Results take 60 seconds

There are various window periods for each of the tests.   Window period is the time from exposure to HIV to get a positive test result.  Speak with your health care provider about which testing option is best for you.

The IDC offers Point of Care Rapid HIV testing, to book an appointment for a test, or to speak with a nurse call 604-561-4896

What does a rapid HIV test look like?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYFaE0npDAk 

For a list of HIV testing sites in Vancouver:

AIDS Vancouver – Testing Sites in Vancouver and Lower mainland
http://www.aidsvancouver.org/get-informed/testing

Information on HIV Testing:

Public Health Agency of Canada – Get Tested for HIV
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/aids-sida/info/4-eng.php

The Body – HIV Testing
http://www.thebody.com/content/6113/hiv-testing.html

Testing and related services for gay men: 

HIM Sexual Centre 
http://checkhimout.ca/him-sexual-health-centre/testing-locations

HIM - "What's your number?" (Figuring out how often you should get tested)
http://checkhimout.ca/testing/

HIV Treatment and Research

BC Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS 
www.cfenet.ubc.ca