HIV Screening

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HIV Screening

Topic Overview

Getting tested for HIV can be scary, but the condition is treatable. So it is important to get tested if you think you have been exposed. Early detection and monitoring of HIV will help your doctor find out whether the disease is getting worse and when to start treatment.

Screening for HIV is recommended if:1

  • You or your sex partner(s) engages in high-risk behaviour.
  • You have tested positive for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia.
  • You have had tattooing, piercing, or acupuncture with unsterilized equipment.

The Society of Obstetrician and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) recommends that women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant be tested for HIV.2 Early treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) can reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby.

You and your doctor can decide if testing is right for you.

You can get HIV testing in most doctors’ offices, public health units, hospitals, and Planned Parenthood clinics.

For more information, see the topic Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection.



  1. Public Health Agency of Canada (2010). Get tested for HIV. Available online:
  2. Keenan-Lindsay L, Yudin M (2006). HIV screening in pregnancy. SOGC Clinical Practice Guideline No. 185. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, 28(12): 1103–1107.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised August 23, 2010

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