Treatment of HIV and AIDS

Learn how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is diagnosed and treated. HIV is the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

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How is HIV diagnosed?

HIV is tested for by doing a blood test. Results can take about 1 to 2 weeks depending on where you live.

HIV will not show up in a blood test immediately after you have been infected. It can take between 15 and 30 days. It depends on the type of test you get.

If you think you have HIV but it does not show up in your blood test:

  • ask your health care provider if it might be too early for the test to detect HIV
  • depending on the test given, your health care provider may ask you to repeat the test to be sure

HIV testing sites across Canada offer different services and testing options. Some sites offer:

  • anonymous testing
    • this means only you will know you took the test and the results
  • rapid HIV testing
    • this means you will get your test result almost immediately

Contact your local public health department or HIV testing site to find out what services are available in your area.

When you get tested for HIV:

How is HIV treated?

There is no cure for HIV.

If you have HIV, you can be treated with antiretroviral drugs. These drugs help:

  • lower the level of HIV in your body
  • slow the spread of the virus in your body
  • help your immune system fight off other infections

Treatment can:

  • give you a better chance of living a longer, healthier life
  • decrease your risk of passing the virus on to others

Starting treatment early can increase your chance of living a near-normal lifespan.

Treatment is also available for many of the infections and diseases associated with having AIDS.

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