HIV remains an important challenge for Ontario’s Black communities and to be honest, the numbers are not on our side. As Black women, it is important that we make HIV testing a regular part of our radical self-care routines.
As Black women, it is important that we know the reality of HIV transmission in our community and make regular HIV testing a part of our individual and collective self-care so as to improve our health outcomes.
We know that making the decision to get an HIV test may feel heavy. It’s important for us as Black women, to have enough knowledge about the benefits of each testing option in order to feel comfortable in selecting the one that works best for us. You can get tested for HIV across Ontario in a variety of settings; including hospitals, health clinics, in the comfort of your home, or out in the community. HIV testing in Ontario is free and confidential.
There are two types of rapid HIV tests in Canada, the point-of care (POC) test and the self-test.
Point-of-care tests can provide results within minutes, so you can receive the test result during the same visit. There is only one POC test approved for use in Canada, the INSTI HIV-1/HIV-2 Antibody Test. This simple test requires a drop of blood from a finger prick to test for HIV.
HIV self-tests allow you to test for HIV in your home or other locations and can provide results within minutes. The first HIV self-test was licensed for use and sale in Canada in November 2020. The INSTI HIV Self Test uses the same technology as the POC test and requires a single drop of blood to test for HIV.
Accessing HIV testing as a Black woman can feel like a daunting process. Whether you’re worried about stigma, have experienced negative interactions in the healthcare system, or simply don’t know where to start, the conversation might not feel easy. The good news is, there are options. Whether by phone, online, or in person, there is confidential and accessible HIV testing information waiting for you.
The Sexual Health Information Line Ontario (SHILO) maintains an updated registry of HIV testing sites across Ontario. They offer services in 13 languages and operate both a phone line and an online e-Chat service. You can call or go online to speak with a live counsellor from anywhere in Ontario.
Monday – Friday: 10 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Statutory holidays: closed
If you feel comfortable, your primary health care provider can be a great resource in helping you navigate your sexual health, and the necessary testing for maintaining your self-care. Your health care provider can provide you up-to-date information on HIV/AIDS, refer you to local resources for testing and support, and support you to get on and stay on treatment where necessary.
If you are a Black woman between the ages of 29-49, you are in the group that is showing higher rates of HIV infection. Early detection is important in order to live a full, healthy life.