HIV Testing Guidelines (updated)

On April 1, 2023 the Ministry of Health Released updated guidelines for providers offering HIV testing. They were developed by the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario, Ontario College of Family Physicians and Ontario-based clinicians and testing providers. They represents an important milestone in our efforts toward the elimination of new HIV infections in Ontario, and are a key to Ontario reaching and exceeding the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets. HIV testing is a critical step in the HIV cascade, providing an opportunity to diagnose HIV infections early, link individuals to HIV care if positive and engage in prevention strategies like PrEP if negative.

 Key aspects of the guidelines include:

  •  streamlined testing and counselling for people vulnerable for HIV infection who test frequently and/or are knowledgeable about HIV
  • a focus on identifying symptoms of acute and chronic HIV infection
  • routine testing for members of populations with higher rates of HIV like 2SGBTQ+ men
  • equitable access to prevention strategies for our community (e.g., HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)
  • promotion of culturally responsive and respectful testing encounters, and access to culturally relevant services and treatment

 Of particular note: the guidelines reduce the current window period for definitively diagnosing HIV from three months to six weeks for laboratory-based testing, to reflect advances in testing technologies. (The current window still applies to HIV rapid/point-of-care testing and HIV self/home testing.).

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