Free HIV Testing in Canada

Young handsome lab assistant testing blood samples in hospital

Free human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing is a cornerstone of public health initiatives worldwide. With this, everyone can do their part in managing the spread of HIV and help in its early detection.

Regardless of your perceived risk, it’s important to learn and understand the types of tests available, where to get tested and how to participate in free testing programs.

Here’s how you can access these services in Canada.

Different types of HIV tests

Together with the development of medical technology, now there are different methods to accommodate different needs and circumstances. Here’s an overview of the types of HIV tests available.

Standard laboratory blood tests

Standard laboratory blood tests are among the most common methods for HIV testing.

With this procedure, a healthcare professional draws blood from your vein and sends them to a lab for analysis. It can detect HIV antibodies and antigens, with results available within a few days to two weeks.

These tests are known for their high accuracy and are the standard against which other testing methods are compared.

Finger-stick blood tests

Finger-stick blood tests are a quicker alternative since they provide results in as little as 20 minutes.

In this method, you or a healthcare professional take a small blood sample from a finger prick and test for HIV antibodies.

While slightly less accurate than laboratory tests, they offer the convenience of rapid results and can be performed anywhere, including:

  • Clinics
  • Community events
  • Home

Oral swab tests

In an oral swab test, the sample is collected from your mouth’s gum line.

This test detects HIV antibodies in the oral fluid, not the virus itself. It’s non-invasive, doesn’t require blood, and can produce results within 20 minutes. Like finger-stick tests, it’s slightly less accurate than lab tests but provides a valuable option for those wary of needles.

Self-test kits

Self-test kits allow you to test for HIV in the privacy of your home. using either a finger-prick blood sample or an oral swab.

They’re designed for ease of use and come with detailed instructions, including how to interpret the results and what steps to take next. While convenient, you need to follow up with a healthcare professional for confirmatory testing if the result is positive.

Where can I get an HIV test?

Routine HIV testing

Routine testing is recommended for all individuals aged 15 to 65, regardless of perceived risk.

Many healthcare settings in Canada offer routine HIV testing as part of standard medical care. This includes:

  • Family doctors’ offices
  • Community health centres
  • Sexual health clinics

Department-supported HIV testing for those at high risk

Departments of public health across Canada support targeted HIV testing programs for populations at higher risk, which include:

  • Men who have sex with men
  • Intravenous drug users
  • Individuals with multiple sexual partners

These programs may offer testing in or through:

  • Community settings
  • Outreach centres
  • Through mobile testing units

HIV self-testing

HIV self-testing kits are available in many pharmacies and online in Canada. These kits offer a convenient option for those who prefer to test in private. Some community organizations and public health departments also distribute free self-testing kits as part of their HIV prevention and testing initiatives.

Cropped view of woman holding card with know your HIV status lettering on red background

HIV testing clinics in Canada

Canada boasts a comprehensive network of HIV testing clinics, including public health clinics, sexual health clinics, and specialized HIV or AIDS service organizations. These clinics often offer free testing, counselling and referrals for treatment and support services.

Alberta HIV clinics

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/

British Columbia HIV clinics

Description
HIV care and treatment is free in British Columbia. For assistance accessing testing or treatment, please review the local clinic resources below or call public health at (604) 675-3900, and we will help you get care.

Address
2775 Laurel Street, 3rd Floor
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 1M9

604-875-4588
https://www.vch.ca/en/service/hiv-clinics#short-description–5871

Description
We are an Aboriginal AIDS Service Organization (ASO) that has a proven record of innovation, responsiveness, and commitment to all Northern residents. In response to the scope of the HIV epidemic in our community, we continue to provide support to people living with HIV/AIDS/HCV (PHAs), and address the greater need for prevention and education services.

Address
3862 G Broadway Ave
Smithers, British Columbia
V0J 2N0

250-562-1172
https://www.positivelivingnorth.org/

Description
At Interior Health, we work and partner for the health and wellbeing of everyone in the B.C. Interior.

Address
333 Victoria Street, Office 260
Nelson, British Columbia
V1L 4K3

250-505-4787
https://www.interiorhealth.ca/

Description
The Vancouver Island Persons Living with HIV/AIDS Society (VPWAS) is the only peer based HIV/AIDS organization on Vancouver Island, and has been providing peer support, Peer Navigation, education and treatment information to persons living with HIV/AIDS for over 25 years.

Address
205 – 1120 Yates Street
Victoria, British Columbia
V8V 3M9

250-382-7927
http://www.vpwas.org/

Description
Turning Points Housing Connections is home to the Homeless Prevention Program, Community Response to HIV/HCV, and the Extreme Weather Shelter Program. It also includes five individual apartments above the commercial space. The goal is to provide safe, secure, and affordable housing for individuals.

Address
4444 Lakelse Avenue
Terrace. British Columbia
V8G 1P2

250-641-8872

Manitoba HIV clinics

Description
The Manitoba Harm Reduction Network works toward equitable access, systemic change, and reducing the transmission sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI) through advocacy, policy work, education, research and relationships.

Address
516 Main St E
Swan River, Manitoba
R0L 1Z0

204-783-6184
https://mhrn.ca/

Description
Implement and maintain an education program on HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and STIs targeting youth

Address
111 Cook Avenue
The Pas, Manitoba
R9A 1K4

204-783-6184

Description
Promoting sexual health through education.

Address
167 Sherbrook Street
Winnipeg Manitoba
R3C 2B7

204-982-7800

Description
Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre Inc. (SHCC) is a sexual violence resource centre, serving those of all genders in the Interlake Eastern Region of Manitoba.

Address
24 Aberdeen Ave
Pinawa, Manitoba
R0E 1L0

204-753-5353
https://survivors-hope.ca/

Description
Walk – In Connected Care Clinics (WICC) are available to the general public on a walk-in basis to meet unexpected health care needs during times when it is difficult to see your regular care provider. Walk-In Connected Care is provided by nurse practitioners, physician assistants and registered nurses; they will directly communicate and connect back to your regular care provider if required.

Address
McGregor WICCC, 2-363 McGregor Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R2W 4X4

204-940-1963
https://wrha.mb.ca/

New Brunswick HIV clinics

Description
AIDS NB operates needle exchanges in Fredericton, Miramichi, and Bathurst. We provide free safe sex and drug use supplies. We also provide free workshops, information on topics such as HIV testing, sexual health, gender and sexuality, AIDS, HIV, Hep C and other STBBIs, harm reduction in classrooms and with healthcare professionals. We offer free Naloxone training and kits are free for those at risk of overdose. Awareness campaigns are held throughout the year for: World AIDS day, World Hepatitis Day, drug/overdose awareness, sexual health etc.

Address
233 Main Street
Bathurst, New Brunswick
E2A 1A9

(506) 455-2625
https://aidsnb.com/

Description
AIDS NB operates needle exchanges in Fredericton, Miramichi, and Bathurst. We provide free safe sex and drug use supplies. We also provide free workshops, information on topics such as HIV testing, sexual health, gender and sexuality, AIDS, HIV, Hep C and other STBBIs, harm reduction in classrooms and with healthcare professionals. We offer free Naloxone training and kits are free for those at risk of overdose. Awareness campaigns are held throughout the year for: World AIDS day, World Hepatitis Day, drug/overdose awareness, sexual health etc.

Address
203-440 Wilsey Road
Fredricton, New Brunswick
E3B 6E9

506-455-2625
https://aidsnb.com/

Newfoundland HIV clinics

Description
Planned Parenthood NLSHC is a non-profit charitable organization that promotes positive sexual health and 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion through education, community partnership, information and services within an environment that supports and respects individual choice.

Address
47 St. Clare Ave
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
A1C 2J9

709-579-1009
https://www.plannedparenthoodnlshc.com/

Description
The AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador (ACNL) is a provincial community-based, non-profit charitable organization committed to preventing the spread of HIV, hepatitis C virus (HCV), and related sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) through education and supportive harm reduction-based programs and services.

Address
98 Broadway
Corner Brooker, Newfoundland and Labrador
A2H 4C8

709-634-7927
https://acnl.net/

Description
The AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador (ACNL) is a provincial community-based, non-profit charitable organization committed to preventing the spread of HIV, hepatitis C virus (HCV), and related sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) through education and supportive harm reduction-based programs and services.

Address
47 Janeway Place
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
A1A 1R7

709-579-8656
https://acnl.net/

Description
PDIFC is –like all Friendship Centres across the country– a non-profit organization that delivers culturally appropriate services to Indigenous people regardless of status in urban communities. Every Centre is as unique as the area it serves allowing for programs and services that vary nationally based on need.

Address
Suite 10, 35 Carolina Avenue
Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador
A2N 3P8

709-643-3902
https://pdifc.com/

Nova Scotia HIV clinics

Description
The Ally Centre of Cape Breton is a non-profit, community based organization whose main objectives are to employ education/prevention strategies that prevent the spread of blood borne pathogens and sexually transmitted infections, and to create supportive environments that diminish risk.

Address
75 Prince Street
Sydney, Nova Scotia
B1P 5J9

902-577-0140

Description
Stepping Stone is a charitable organization that provides services and support to current and former sex workers, people at risk of entering the sex trade, and people who identify as being trafficked.

Address
32 Primrose Street
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B3A 4C5

902-420-0103
https://steppingstonens.ca/

Description
Sexual Health Nova Scotia (SHNS) is a leading and expert voice around the issues of sexual and reproductive health.

Address
22637 Highway 7, P.O. Box 211
Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia
B0J 3B0

902-885-3693
https://shns.ca/member-centres/sheet-harbour-sexual-health-centre/

Description
We strive to create an environment in which people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS feel empowered and supported. Our aim is to end stigma and discrimination, and reduce new cases of HIV.

Address
5516 Spring Garden Road, Suite 200
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 1G6

902-425-4882
https://acns.ns.ca/

Prince Edward Island HIV clinics

Description
The Lennox Island Health Centre provides the people of Lennox Island with health care, our facility delivers home support and substance abuse counselling, provides access to fitness and maternal-health coordinators and so much more.

Address
327 Sweetgrass Trail
Lennox Island, Prince Edward Island
C0B 1J0

902-831-2711

Description
The Native Council of Prince Edward Island is a community of Indigenous people living off-reserve in traditional Mi’kmaq territory. NCPEI is the self-governing authority for all off-reserve Indigenous living on Epekwitk (PEI).

Address
614 North River Road, Suite 5
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
C1E 1K2

902 629 1541
http://ncpei.com/

Description
PEERS Alliance supports those living with and at risk for HIV, Hep C, and all sexually transmitted infections in PEI by offering a variety of programs and services targeted to diverse communities.

Address
250b Queen St
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
C1A 4B8

902-566-2437
https://www.peersalliance.ca/

Saskatchewan HIV clinics

Description
At Planned Parenthood Regina, their mission is to provide accessible, comprehensive, and confidential sexual health services to everyone in their community. They believe in the right to make informed choices about sexual health and well-being.

Address
2024-A Albert St
Regina, Saskatchewan
S4P 2T7

306 522 0902
https://www.plannedparenthoodregina.com

Description
AIDS Programs South Saskatchewan (APSS) has been helping men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS. We are a community-based non-profit registered charitable organization. Our goal is to provide those living with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C (HCV) and those at risk of contracting the virus, with relevant and current information and support services.

Address
1325 Albert St
Regina, Saskatchewan
S4R 2R6

306-924-8420
https://www.aidsprogramssouthsask.com/

Description
Serve people at-risk and affected by HIV and Hepatitis C by reducing discrimination and deaths, removing barriers, pursuing innovation and demonstrating evidence-based outcomes.

Address
1516 20th ST W
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7M 0Z6

306-242-5005
https://prairiehr.ca/

Description
Saskatoon Sexual Health is a non-profit organization located on Treaty Six Territory and the homeland of the Metis. We are proud to offer sexual and reproductive health education, advocacy, clinical and abortion services to Saskatoon and the surrounding area.

Address
213 Ave C S
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7M 1N3

306-244-7989
https://saskatoonsexualhealth.ca/

Quebec HIV clinics

Description
Point de Repères is a community organization whose mission is to promote health, prevention, the provision of care and services with regard to sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs), as well as look at drug addiction

Address
545 rue du Parvis
Quebec City, Québec
G1K 9G5

418-648-8042
https://pointdereperes.com/

Description
The mission of the Mouvement d’Aide et d’Information Sida Bas-Saint-Laurent (MAINS BSL) is threefold. Our first mandate is to inform and raise public awareness about HIV/AIDS , as well as to prevent HIV infection in Bas-Saint-Laurent. We help and support people living with HIV/AIDS and their loved ones in the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie regions. Our second mandate is to inform and raise public awareness about STBBIs , sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections. We prevent the transmission of STBBIs while providing help and support to people living with an STBBI in Bas-Saint-Laurent. A third mandate aims to inform and raise public awareness of the homosexual reality , to develop strategies to fight homophobia and to provide help and support to people living with a problem related to the LGBT+ reality (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) in Bas-Saint-Laurent.

Address
201-192 rue Saint-Germain Est
Rimouski, Québec
G5L1A8

4187227432

Description
L’Anonyme aims to promote safe behaviors and egalitarian relationships as well as prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted or blood-borne infections (STBBIs) through a humanist approach of proximity. Our action is based on a humanist approach, active listening and respect for personal rhythm. We take the approach of harm reduction associated with risky behaviors.

Address
5600 Hochelaga, suite 160
Montréal, Québec
H1N 3L7

514-842-1488

Description
Familiprix-affiliated owner David St-Jean Gagnon, a consultant pharmacist and his team of professionals promote a holistic approach to health in an eco-friendly environment. They also have expertise and a keen interest in the treatment of opioid addiction treatment as well as HIV/AIDS, STBBIs, and viral hepatitis.

Address
1588 Boul. Saint-Laurent
Montreal, Québec
H2X 2T1

514 508 1770
http://www.rxmtl.com/

Ontario HIV clinics

Description
SAFER SIX is a safe space designed for allindividuals, regardless of gender and sexual orientation to encourage more sexual testing and normalizing treatment as a part of regular everyday health screening for all individuals. We have also expanded recently to include like-minded allied health practitioners to provide massage therapy, acupuncture, osteopathic therapy, and mental health therapy services.

Address
505-27 Roncesvalles Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M6R 3B2

647-657-4033

Description
We are Ontario’s original trusted service for PrEP and HIV care.

Address
401-344 Bloor Street W
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 3A7

416-420-1250
https://www.prepclinic.ca/

Description
For over two decades, Moyo (previously known as Peel HIV/AIDS Network) has provided a growing array of health promotion, education, social and support services for people living with, affected by, and at systemic risk of HIV.

Address
601-7700 Hurontario Street
Brampton, Ontario
L6Y 4M3

905-361-0523
https://www.moyohcs.ca/

Description
ACNBA’s mission is to assist and support all people infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS and/or Hepatitis C and to limit the spread of the viruses through education, outreach and treatment strategies.

Address
101-147 McIntyre St W
North Bay, Ontario
P1B 2Y5

705-497-3560
https://aidsnorthbay.ca/

Description
Welcome to Trellis HIV & Community Care (Formerly HARS), a safe space providing stigma-free HIV/AIDS education, harm reduction, and support services across Kingston and South Eastern Ontario.

Address
844 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario
K7L 1G5

613-545-3698
https://trellishiv.ca/

Description
Pozitive Pathways provides client advocacy, support, harm reduction, health promotion and education services for people living with, affected by, or at-risk of HIV, Hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted blood borne infections (STBBIs) in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent.

Address
495 Pelissier Street
Windsor, Ontario
N9A 4L2

519-973-0222
https://www.pozitivepathways.com/

Description
We are a community-based organization made up of dedicated, caring, committed individuals. Staff and volunteers alike provide support, education, and advocacy in a safe and confidential environment for HIV-positive individuals, their families, and their friends.

Address
120 Queenston Street
St. Catherines, Ontario
L2R 2Z3

905-984-8684
https://positivelivingniagara.com/

Description
We are a community-based, not-for -profit organization that provides services, opportunities and programs to improve the lives and empower people living with, affected by or at risk of HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis C in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.

Address
102-106 Cumberland Street North
Thunder Bay, Ontario
P7A 4M2

807-345-1516
https://elevatenwo.org/

Description
We are community inspired and dedicated to positively impacting the lives of individuals and diverse communities living with, at-risk for or affected by HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.

Address
201-602 Queens Avenue
London, Ontario
N6B 1Y8

519-434-1601
https://www.hivaidsconnection.ca/

How to participate in the free HIV testing

To participate in Canada’s free HIV testing, find a testing site near you by visiting the website of your local public health department or a national HIV or AIDS organization.

Many clinics offer walk-in testing, while others may require an appointment. For free self-testing kits, check with community organizations or search for government initiatives providing these kits to the public at no cost.

At-home HIV test

If you’re seeking privacy and convenience at-home HIV tests are available for purchase at pharmacies or can be obtained through various health departments and community organizations for free or at a reduced cost.

For the highest accuracy and reliability, choose a test that’s approved by Health Canada.

Frequently asked questions

Why get tested for HIV?

Early detection of HIV is crucial for effective treatment. Knowing your status can help you make informed decisions about your health and prevent the transmission of the virus to others.

Who should get tested for HIV?

Anyone who has had unprotected sex, shared needles or been exposed to HIV through any other means should get tested. Regular testing is also recommended for those with risk factors such as multiple sexual partners or a partner with HIV.

When should I be tested for HIV?

It’s advisable to get tested as part of routine health care. If you’ve had a potential exposure, you need to get tested immediately. The window period for testing (the time between exposure and when a test can detect the virus) varies by test type, so consult a healthcare provider to determine the best timing for you.

What if I test positive for HIV?

Testing positive for HIV is life-changing, but it’s a comfort to know that HIV is a manageable condition with today’s medical advancements.

Here are the steps you should take following a positive test result.

  • Seek confirmatory testing. Initial positive results, especially from rapid tests or self-tests, require confirmation with a follow-up laboratory test for more accurate results.
  • Connect with a healthcare provider. A healthcare provider experienced in HIV treatment will guide you through the next steps, including further testing to assess your overall health and the progression of the virus.
  • Discuss treatment options. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the cornerstone of HIV treatment and it’s capable of reducing the virus to undetectable levels in the blood. An undetectable viral load means the virus cannot be transmitted to others, and it helps individuals with HIV maintain their health.
  • Access support services. Emotional, psychological and sometimes financial support are key components of managing HIV. Many organizations offer counselling, support groups and assistance with navigating healthcare and treatment.
  • Inform your partners. Notify your sexual or needle-sharing partners about your HIV status so they can get tested and take appropriate precautions. Public health departments can assist in this process confidentially.

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