HIV and STBBI testing
As soon as you start having sex with men, get tested for HIV and other STBBIs at least once a year. Have you had your test this year?
The ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (health and social services department) recommends that gay men, bisexual men and men who have sex with men get tested for HIV at least once a year. If you have more than three partners, get tested two to four times a year to best take care of your health.
To find a testing site near you, use the search tool by postal code.
Note that some testing centres have modified their services because of COVID-19. Contact the testing centre closest to you for more details.
HIV and STBBI testing is a safe and accessible way to get clear on your sexual health status. If you test positive for something, it means you can:
- Treat the infection or control it, and stay healthy.
- Tell your partners from the last few months so they can also get tested, and get treated if necessary.
- Break the chain of transmission within the community.
When should you get tested?
As soon as:
- You’ve had sex with men.
- You have symptoms like those of an STBBI. That being said, most of the time, there are no symptoms. You may have an STBBI without knowing it.
- A sexual partner tells you they’ve got an STBBI.
Remember that once you’ve had sex, testing remains the safe and accessible way to take care of your sexual health.
The various tests
There are two types of HIV test:
- The standard test is done by means of a blood draw. The result takes two to four weeks.
- The rapid test is done by taking drops of blood from your fingertips. The result is available in a few minutes. If the rapid test reacts for HIV, you will need to get a standard test to confirm the diagnosis.
Tests can only detect and infection after a certain amount of time. This period varies between a few days and a few months depending on the infection. The doctor or nurse will evaluate your situation and suggest that you repeat tests if necessary.
HIV and other STBBI tests are generally free. In some clinics, you’ll be asked to pay $10 to $20 for shipping your samples to the laboratory.
How does the test work?
In general, the test is a three-step process. The doctor or nurse will:
- Ask you questions about your sexual practices to determine what tests to give you.
- Take samples— this process may cause some discomfort but should be relatively painless:
- Urine sample;
- Blood sample;
- Swabs of secretions or cells from:
- the urethra;
- the anus;
- the throat;
- the front hole.
- Give you your results, by telephone or in person at a second appointment. If you’ve taken a rapid HIV test, the results will be given to you right away.
The exam is also a good time to talk about the various ways you can protect your health. Depending on your test results, your health professional may suggest treatment and follow-up.
It can be embarrassing or uncomfortable to tell your doctor or nurse about your sexual practices. Remember, health professionals ask questions to determine what test to offer you and where to take samples from. Your discussion is strictly confidential and your test results won’t be disclosed to anyone unless you approve it.
How much does it cost?
STBBI testing and treatments are free as long as you have a Québec health insurance card. Some resources may charge fees for shipping your biological samples to a laboratory.
If you’re in the process of regularizing your immigration status and you live in Montréal, contact Doctors of the World Canada: 514 281-8998, ext. 246.
If you don’t have a health insurance card, contact the HIV/AIDS community organization closest to you.
Where can you get tested?
Find the clinic closest to you by using the search tool by postal code.
It’s not always easy to navigate the Québec health network. Finding a testing site near you can be difficult. To help you choose the type of establishment that will best meet your needs, here’s a brief description of the main types of establishments that offer testing for HIV and other STBBIs.
HIV/AIDS community organizations
Some community organizations run testing clinics, while others offer accompaniment or reference services. Testing clinics are offered in collaboration with the health network. You’ll be warmly welcomed, and the service is free and confidential.
HIV community organizations that don’t offer testing services can generally refer you to respectful health professionals.
Medical clinics specializing in HIV/AIDS and other STBBIs
Some areas have specialized HIV and STBBI clinics. The testing services are covered by the RAMQ as long as you have a valid Québec health insurance card. Some clinics charge fees for shipping your samples to the laboratory where they’ll be analyzed; they usually vary from $10 to $20.
The modalities for making an appointment, visiting and getting follow-up vary from one clinic to the next. Contact them to find out more.
The “service intégré de dépistage et de prévention (SIDEP),” which means “integrated testing and prevention service,” is a service provided in CLSCs. SIDEPs offer testing, including anonymous testing, prevention and vaccination services. They target populations at high risk for STBBIs:
- Youth in difficulty (for example, street youth);
- Men who have sex with men;
- People who inject or inhale drugs;
- People who are or have been incarcerated;
- People from areas where HIV infection is endemic;
- Indigenous people;
- Sex workers;
- Trans people.
Find a SIDEP in a CLSC in your area by using the search tool by postal code.
If you live in Montréal, make an appointment online at the Clinique SIDEP+.
CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal
1705 Rue de la Visitation
Montréal, H2L 3C3