This result means that antibodies (your body’s immune response) to HIV were not detected and your HIV status is negative. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV in the last 3 months, you could be in the window period. This is the period before antibodies can be detected by the test, and we recommend you test again 3 months after the exposure. Regular testing for HIV is encouraged for people who are sexually active or use injection drugs.
Taking steps to protect yourself and your partner(s) from HIV
HIV is preventable and there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your partner(s). Clinical evidence shows that condom use for penetrative sex (anal or vaginal/front hole), Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and avoiding sharing needles are all effective HIV prevention strategies. If you feel comfortable and safe to do so, talking with your partners about each of your HIV statuses and discussing prevention strategies together can also help.
If you are an injection drug user, one way to prevent HIV transmission is to use a new sterile needle each time and to place used needles in a sharps container. There are many places you can go to get new sterile needles or drop-off used needles, such as healthcare centres and some community-based organizations. Visit our Care pathways pages on this website for information about services by province and territory.
About Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
Taking PrEP, a daily medication to help prevent HIV infection, may be a good fit for you if your status is negative and you think that you are at risk for HIV. To find out more about whether PrEP is right for you, see your healthcare provider.
There may be options available to you to take PrEP on demand, but it is only effective for anal sex and not front hole/vaginal sex. Taking PrEP also involves seeing a doctor or nurse every three months for HIV testing, screening for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), monitoring for possible side effects, and ongoing support. Note that PrEP only helps to prevent HIV and it does not protect against other STIs (such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis) or other infections (such as hepatitis A, B and C). It also does not prevent pregnancy. It does, however, likely reduce the risk of HIV transmission from needle sharing.
Your healthcare provider or community-based harm reduction service can also advise you on harm reduction, such as needle and syringe programs, opioid agonist therapy and safe consumption services.
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can help within 72 hours of exposure
If you are concerned about a recent exposure to HIV (within the last 72 hours) you can go to a hospital emergency department to ask about HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (HIV PEP), a 4-week course of medications that you can take if you are HIV negative and think you have been recently exposed. This treatment can prevent HIV infection and is more effective the earlier it is started. For PEP to be effective, a person must have high adherence to the full course of PEP drugs while taking PEP.
Support is available
If you want to speak to someone about HIV self-test results or prevention measures like PrEP or PEP, you can call the information lines in the HIV self-test kit package insert or visit the Care pathways pages on this website or HIV411.ca to find help. You can also access our I’m Ready, Talk app to make an appointment with a peer navigator.