This page includes general information for the province of British Columbia (BC). In BC, health services are delivered by Regional Health Authorities. In addition to the province-wide information on this page, please also visit the page for your health authority.
Region-Specific Services Pages
If you don’t know which health authority you are in you can refer to the Ministry of Health: Health Boundaries map.
If your HIV self-test result is negative
- If you live in British Columbia (BC) and your HIV self-test result is negative, go to SmartSexResource or call at 604-707-5603 or 1-888-488-7444, or call HealthLink BC 811 by dialing 8-1-1 on your phone to connect to prevention services, such as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) or harm reduction services. More information about these services is outlined below.
- If you need to repeat your HIV test, details about window periods for different HIV tests can be found at SmartSexResource, where you can also find a window period calculator. The window period is the time between when a person comes in contact with HIV or other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) and when the HIV or other STBBI infection will show up on a test.
HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) refers to the use of a daily oral HIV medication (called antiretrovirals or HAART) by people who do not have HIV infection to help prevent them from getting HIV. In BC, any licensed Doctor, or a Nurse Practitioner with training in treatment for HIV prevention, is qualified to prescribe you PrEP. For those who are eligible, PrEP is available for free.
PrEP is different from PEP (or post-exposure prophylaxis). PrEP is taken before a potential exposure to HIV and may be taken on a long-term basis.
HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a 4-week course of medications that a person can take if they are HIV negative and think that they have been exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours. Most hospital emergency rooms in BC will be able to prescribe 5-day starter kits of HIV PEP treatment. You can also check in with your local Health Authority’s Care pathways page to find out more about accessing PEP in your community.
- To be effective, the treatment needs to be started as soon as possible after HIV exposure, ideally within 2 hours and no later than 72 hours after the event of potential exposure to HIV. HIV PEP is different from HIV PrEP (or pre-exposure prophylaxis), which is taken after a potential exposure to HIV.
- You can learn more about PEP on the SmartSexResource PEP information page and from the BC Centre for Excellence (BC-CfE) in HIV/AIDS’s information page about PEP. The BC-CfE also has details about where to access PEP in BC.
If your HIV self-test result is positive
You should see a healthcare provider as soon as possible to tell them that your result was positive so you can get the information and support you need to take care of your health. The self-test you took is a highly accurate screening test, however all HIV self-test positive results need to be confirmed by a lab test that your healthcare provider can order to give you a formal HIV diagnosis.
While there is no cure for HIV, HIV is treatable. People with HIV on treatment can live long, healthy lives. The medications used to treat HIV are called antiretrovirals. They prevent the virus from replicating and slow the disease’s progress. Starting antiretroviral therapy early can lower the virus in you to an undetectable level so that you can stay healthy, and so that you can’t transmit the virus to others.
Accessing HIV confirmatory testing
Access to HIV confirmatory testing can take place at any specialized sexual health clinic, through a Family Physician or Nurse Practitioner or at a walk-in clinic. A provider will give you a laboratory requisition with HIV checked off on it, and you will go to a lab to have blood drawn. It can take up to 2 weeks to receive the results.
To access confirmatory testing:
- You can book an appointment with your own Family Physician or Nurse Practitioner.
- You can use BCCDC’s SmartSexResource clinic finder page to locate health centres and community clinics across BC, or call 604-707-5603 or 1-888-488-7444 to get connected to confirmatory HIV testing and treatment and care.
- You can also use Options for Sexual Health’s clinic finder to locate Options clinics throughout BC (including their virtual clinic that is available to all), or call 604-731-4252 or 1-800-739-7367.
- If you identify as Indigenous, you can book a virtual appointment with a Physician or Nurse Practitioner through the First Nations Health Authority’s Virtual Doctor of the Day program by calling 1-855-344-3800.
- In some BC communities, you can get your own paperwork to visit a lab for STBBI testing through GetCheckedOnline, without having to first see your healthcare provider.
About HIV treatment and care
You can access HIV treatment and care through a family physician or healthcare provider in your region. Consult the region-specific resources to get connected with treatment and care close to where you live.
BC regional health authority information lines
The regional health authorities in BC each have teams to help support people with HIV testing, care and treatment. You can learn more about confirmatory testing and treatment services in your region directly from each of them:
- Vancouver Coastal Health STOP HIV Team: visit this page or call 604-838-1331
- Island Health Communicable Disease: visit this page or call 250-388-2225 or 1-866-665-6626
- Interior Health’s Outreach Team: visit this page, check out this handout or call 1-866-778-7736
- Northern Health Specialized Support Team for HIV and Hepatitis C: visit this page or call 1-888-645-6495
- Fraser Health’s Sexual Health and Blood Borne Infection Team: visit this page or call 604-476-7087
Services for Indigenous peoples
If you live in a rural or remote First Nations community in BC, you can call or visit the nearest nursing station or health centre for more information about accessing confirmatory HIV testing.
Culturally safe resources for Indigenous people who test positive and are looking for support include:
- KUU-US First Nations Crisis Response Service: 24/7 Crisis Response service
- Mental Health and Cultural Supports During Covid-19: This resource is also relevant and useful during non-COVID-19 times
- Yúusnewas (via YouthCo): for Youth (up to age 29) looking for STBBI support, services, programming
- FNHA Virtual Substance Use & Psychiatry services:
- Substance Use and Addictions Medicine: Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. This service requires a referral from a healthcare provider of any kind, including community health workers, wellness workers or traditional medicine specialists.
- Psychiatry: Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This service requires a referral from a healthcare provider of any kind, including community health workers, wellness workers or traditional medicine specialists.
- Maternity & Babies Advice Line: (24/7): call 1-236-305-7364, for pregnancy, possible pregnancy, and for people who may be breast/chest feeding.
If your HIV self-test result is invalid
If your HIV self-test result is invalid (i.e., no visible control dot), this means that the test did not work. If this happens, you should repeat the self-test with a new test kit and pay close attention to the instructions for use.
To get tested another way, you can call SmartSexResource at 604-707-5603 or 1-888-488-7444 for information on HIV testing options. Alternatively, to find out about other HIV testing options such as laboratory-based or point of care testing, you can visit or contact:
- Any specialized sexual health clinic
- Family Physician
- Nurse Practitioner
- A walk-in clinic
You can also visit SmartSexResource, Options for Sexual Health, and also HIV411.ca to find HIV testing locations or other community-based services near you, or you can contact your regional health authority for support around HIV testing options.
Sexual health and other STBBI services
- BCCDC’s SmartSexResource clinic finder page can be used to locate health centres and community clinics across BC and offers more information about sex and sexual health.
- In some BC communities, you can test online through GetCheckedOnline.
- Options for Sexual Health is another resource site with more information about sex and sexual health: 604-731-7803 or 1-800-739-7367.
- The Sex Sense phone line at 604-731-7803 or 1-800-739-7367 (M-F 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and this online form offer more information about sex and sexual health.
- First Nations Health Authority’s Virtual Doctor of the Day line at 1-855-344-3800 is for all Indigenous peoples and their families.
BC peer navigation and community-based organizations
Peer navigators are people with lived experience who can help others learn about available services and resources for people newly diagnosed with HIV. To locate different community-based organizations in BC who may offer peer-based support, you can visit HIV411.ca, a directory of HIV and hepatitis C services. You can also check out the Pacific AIDS Network member list.
Harm reduction services in BC
- Use the Toward the Heart site finder to locate places offering harm reduction services and supplying safer sex and drug use supplies.
- To learn more about different harm reduction supplies, visit the SmartSexResource harm reduction webpage.
- To learn more about harm reduction services in BC, visit the BCCDC Harm Reduction Services webpage and the SmartSexResource’s web resource on alcohol, drugs and sex.
- You can also visit the BCCSU’s Drug Checking site to learn more about drug checking services and alerts in your area.
In addition to the province-wide introductory information listed above, please also visit the page specific to your health authority.