HIV testing is now recommended to be offered as part of routine medical care. Routine testing for HIV allows for earlier access to services, care and treatment. This earlier access helps people to live longer, healthier lives.
Did you know that about one in five people living with HIV don't know they have it?
Knowing you are HIV negative is as important as knowing you have HIV. The only way to know for sure is to have a test. Talk to your health care provider and sayYES to an HIV test!
What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human ImmunodeficiencyVirus. HIV attacks the body's immune system. The immune system helps your body fight off infection and disease. There is no cure for HIV but it can be treated. HIV is a chronic, manageable disease.
What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired ImmuneDeficiencySyndrome. This is the advanced stage of HIV. People living with HIV who are unable to access HIV testing, care and treatment may develop AIDS over time as the body's immune system weakens.
How can HIV be spread?
Anyone living with HIV may pass it to another person through:
- Sexual contact (unprotected vaginal, anal and/or oral sex).
HIV is present in sexual fluids including semen, vaginal fluids and anal fluids
- Blood contact (sharing of drug using, tattoo, piercing or acupuncture equipment).
HIV is present in blood and in body fluids that are visibly contaminated with blood
- Pregnancy, delivery and/or breastfeeding (a woman with HIV may pass it to her infant without proper treatment).
Breastfeeding is not recommended for infants born to mothers living with HIV because of the risk of HIV transmission. Free formula is available to infants born to mothers living with HIV from birth to approximately one year of age.
HIV doesn't spread by everyday contact.
HIV is not spread when hugging, shaking hands or eating meals prepared by people living with HIV. You cannot get HIV from telephones, toilet seats, swimming pools, hot tubs, water fountains or by sharing glasses or dishes. A common myth is that mosquitos can transmit HIV, however, the answer is NO. HIV is not transmitted by mosquitos, ticks or any other insects.
HIV can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) if not treated. There is no cure for HIV, but medication can control it. People living with HIV on medications can have the same healthy lives, relationships and children, as people without HIV.
How to prevent spread of HIV
The only way to prevent spread of HIV 100% of the time is to avoid any risk activities. Risk of HIV transmission can be reduced by practicing safer activities:
- Clean small blood spills with a mixture of household bleach and water (1 part bleach to 10 parts water).
- Always practice safer sex.
- Do not share any drug use equipment such as needles or syringes, spoons/cookers, filter or rinse solutions etc.
- Do not share any tattoo, piercing, acupuncture equipment or any items that may have come into contact with another person's blood.
What to do if exposed to another person's blood or body fluid
An exposure occurs when a person comes in contact with the blood or body fluids of another person. Types of exposures include:
- Needle stick injury (when a needle causes a break in the skin)
- Blood/body fluid splash to an open wound, or to the eyes, mouth or nose
- Condom failure/break
If you think you have been exposed to another person's blood or body fluids, you need to seek immediate medical attention at your nearest Emergency Room, as soon as possible.
For assistance disposing needles found in Regina, call Street Project at 306-766-7799. Outside of Regina, contact the local Public Health office or Fire Department.
More information is available by calling Healthline at 811 or visiting the Healthline Online website.
Should I be tested for HIV?
Routine, voluntary HIV testing is recommended in Saskatchewan at least every 5 years in all adults. HIV testing may be offered more frequently based on the presence of risk factors for HIV.
Verbal consent is required for HIV testing. Individuals have the right to refuse HIV testing when offered.
Like other communicable diseases (influenza, whooping cough, food poisoning, etc.), positive HIV test results will be sent to the local Medical Health Officer, responsible for Public Health in your region.
People who are being tested for HIV should also consider testing for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.
More information about who should be tested for HIV is available at:
Where is HIV testing available?
In Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region, HIV testing is available through:
- Your family doctor, nurse practitioner (NP) or a doctor/NP at a walk-in clinic
- The Sexual Health Clinic at 2110 Hamilton St - Main floor
- Planned Parenthood Regina
Anonymous testing for HIV is available in Regina. Call for an appointment:
- 306-766-7779 or toll-free 1-800-268-9888
For further information about HIV
In the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region, including HIV testing and follow up
- A Public Health Nurse at 306-766-7625
- The Infectious Diseases Clinic at 306-766-3915
Support and information in the community
- AIDS Programs South Saskatchewan at 306-924-8420
- All Nations Hope AIDS Network at 306-924-8424
About HIV-related Stigma
Its Different Now Video and HIV awareness campaigns
About Consent, Privacy and Confidentiality
Talk to your nurse, doctor or the privacy officer in your health region. You may also contact the Privacy Commissioner at 306-787-8250 or toll free at 1-877-595-1666 or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Legal Side of HIV Testing, Consent and Disclosure
Call the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network at 1-416-595-1666 or by email at: email@example.com
More about HIV and Hepatitis C
Call CATIE at 1-800-263-1638 or visit their website.