HIV Testing in Alberta

Beautiful Moraine lake in Banff national park, Alberta, Canada

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing is a critical component of maintaining public health and personal well-being.

The Alberta government is continually making an effort to ensure that testing is accessible, confidential and free of charge in many cases.

Here’s all you need to know about HIV testing in Alberta.

Free HIV testing clinics in Alberta

Alberta offers various free HIV testing clinics across the province to make sure that all citizens have access to HIV testing services without the barrier of cost. These clinics provide confidential testing services, often accompanied by counselling and support services to help you understand the testing process and deal with the results, whether positive or negative.

Description
Confidential and free STI (sexually transmitted infection)testing and treatment, as well as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis testing services.

Address
113 Thickwood Boulevard
Fort McMurray, Alberta
T9H 5E5

780-791-6182
https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/findhealth/facility.aspx?id=1011557

Description
SafeLink Alberta is an organization that works to reduce the risks associated with sexual activity and substance use. We serve and advocate for priority populations in Calgary and southern Alberta by providing education, non-judgemental services, and harm reduction programming.

Address
411 N Railway S.
Medicine Hat, Alberta
T1A 2Z3

403-527-5882
https://safelinkalberta.ca/#

Description
iHuman Youth Society is a non-profit that believes all young people have gifts to share. In partnership with marginalized young people, we amplify their creative expression, address their needs and support goals that privilege their voices.

Address
9635 102A Ave NW
Edmonton, Alberta
T5H 0G3

780-421-8811
https://ihuman.org/

Description
Turning Point (formally the Central Alberta AIDS Network Society) was established on May 9th, 1988 as a community-based response to Central Alberta’s HIV/AIDS crisis. In addition to health promotion, the charity has since expanded its reach, incorporating programming specific to harm reduction, night reach, rural outreach, overdose prevention, and a women’s program. Today, Turning Point Society delivers harm reduction and STBBI prevention supplies, services, and programming to a wide range of vulnerable individuals across Central Alberta.

Address
4611 – 50 Avenue
Red Deer, Alberta
T4N 3Z9

403-346-8858
https://turningpoint-ca.org/

Description
The Calgary STI clinic offers comprehensive STI services and is a walk-in only clinic open Monday to Friday, and Saturdays that are not connected to a long weekend. As the demand for service is high, patients may experience longer wait times at the clinic. The clinic also prioritizes patients most in need and some patients are not always seen in the order they present to the clinic. All patients will be expected to mask and complete a COVID screen upon arrival at the clinic.

Address
1213 4 Street SW
Calgary, Alberta
T2R 0X7

855-945-6700
https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/findhealth/Service.aspx?id=1668&serviceAtFacilityID=1039203

Description
Located in Edmonton’s McCauley neighbourhood, we’re proud to be part of a vibrant and diverse community. At Church Street, we believe in making an impact in our patients’ lives beyond pharmacy advice. We take the time to explore each person’s unique circumstances, learn their story and understand their concerns. By learning about our community and its needs, we’re able to provide quality patient care.

Address
10631 96 Street
Edmonton, Alberta
T5H 2J1

780-426-7701
https://mintdrugs.com/locations/church-street-edmonton/

How to participate for the free HIV testing

Participating in free HIV testing in Alberta is straightforward. Visit your local public health clinic or community health centres that offer HIV testing. Many of these centres allow walk-ins, but it’s a good idea to call ahead or check online for specific hours and any requirements.

Aside from public health clinics, you can also contact several community organizations or be updated on events that offer free and anonymous testing throughout the year, particularly during public health campaigns or awareness weeks.

HIV testing options in Alberta

There are several options for getting tested for HIV in Alberta. Each caters to different needs and preferences.

  • Private clinic: Private clinics offer confidential HIV testing, often with the option for anonymous testing. While the test itself might be free, there may be a fee for the clinic’s services.
  • Local lab: Many local laboratories provide HIV testing services. A referral from a healthcare provider might be necessary, and the cost can vary.
  • Community clinic: Community clinics are excellent resources for free and confidential HIV testing. They often provide additional support services, such as counselling.
  • At home: At-home HIV testing kits are available for those who want to test themselves in the privacy of their homes.

Image concept with the result of the HIV test.

At-home HIV test

The at-home HIV test is an innovative option for those who prefer privacy or cannot easily access traditional testing sites. These kits can be purchased online or at pharmacies, and they provide results within minutes.

If the test is positive, follow up with a healthcare provider to discuss further testing and treatment options.

Frequently asked questions

Why get tested for HIV?

Getting tested for HIV allows you to know your status, access treatment early if you’re positive and take steps to prevent the spread of HIV to others. Early detection through testing is key to managing HIV effectively.

Who should get tested for HIV?

Everyone should consider getting tested for HIV at least once as part of routine healthcare. Those with risk factors such as unprotected sex, multiple sexual partners or injecting drugs should get tested more frequently.

When should I be tested for HIV?

Testing should occur at least annually for those with risk factors. However, if you have had a potential exposure to HIV, it’s important to get tested as soon as possible. Keep in mind that there is a “window period” after exposure during which the virus may not be detectable by tests, so follow-up tests might be necessary.

What if I test positive for HIV?

Testing positive for HIV is undoubtedly challenging, but it’s not the end of the world. HIV is a manageable condition with the right treatment.

Alberta has resources and healthcare professionals ready to provide the necessary support and treatment plans to help you lead a healthy life. The first step after a positive test is to connect with a healthcare provider to discuss treatment options.

HIV testing in Alberta is designed to be accessible, confidential and supportive. By taking advantage of the testing services available, you can take control of your health and contribute to the broader effort of preventing the spread of HIV in the community.

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