A self-test for HIV is currently being assessed by Health Canada and is expected to be approved within the next several weeks. It is manufactured by a Canadian company (bioLytical) and is the same rapid test used by Hassle Free Clinic, adapted for self-use rather than by a health care provider. It will be the first self-test approved for use in Canada, though self-tests have been available in other countries for some time. Research has shown the availability of self-tests increases HIV testing rates.
It is expected that some free self-tests will be available online and through some Toronto agencies as part of research projects. The tests will also be sold online, and most likely in Ontario pharmacies. A price has not yet been established, but it is expected to be between $25 and $45.
It is a screening test that detects HIV antibodies. It is very accurate, but on rare occasions may give a false reactive result. All reactive results must be confirmed by a blood draw sent to the Public Health Lab.
The ‘window period’, which is the time from infection until the test can detect antibodies is as early as 3 weeks, but can be as long as 12 weeks. For this reason, more frequent testing in the window period may be helpful if a self-test is negative during this period and you have significant concerns.
Hassle Free will be offering telephone pre and post-test information and counselling services to people who decide to do their own HIV test. If someone has a reactive self-test result, we will be offering Anonymous, confirmatory testing and linkage to care and support.
We will update this information as it becomes available.