Lesson 3 The importance of testing

  • Understand the importance of testing 
  • Understand the risks of sexually transmitted infections
  • Understand when you should be tested for HIV/ HCV

Getting tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections is an important part of routine health care, especially if you are sexually active or have risky behaviours. Testing is important because it lets you know if you have HIV or another sexually transmitted infection (STI). Many STIs can be treated with antibiotics but if untreated can lead to negative consequences against which it is important to protect yourself and your partner:

  • Untreated STIs can cause infertility (inability to make a baby) in both men and women
  • Untreated human papillomavirus or HPV can cause genital warts and certain types of cancer
  • If you are pregnant, it is vital to get tested for HIV, HCV and STIs. If you should have HIV or an STI, there are medications that can help prevent your baby from becoming infected.
  • If there is a possibility that your partner has had sex with anyone besides you, you should get tested.
  • If you know you have HIV , HCV or an STI, you can protect your partner or partners from becoming infected by not having sex or by using a condom.

Watch this video to learn more about avoiding STIs

Watch this video to learn how to use a condom correctly

  • If you have ever shared needles for injecting drugs  
  • If you have ever injected illegal drugs (only 1 injection can lead to HCV) 
  • If you know or suspect that your sex partner(s) has had multiple partners, used injection drugs, or had sex with prostitutes  
  • If you or your sex partner(s) have had a sexually transmitted infection (STI) 
  • If you have hemophilia or have had sex without a condom with a person with hemophilia 
  • If you have had a needle stick or other blood product exposure 
  • If you have had anal, vaginal or oral sex without a condom 
  • If you are pregnant (it is best to be tested before getting pregnant, if you have any of the above risks)
  • If you have had sex with someone who exchanges sex for money or if you have more than one sexual partner

What is the test like? 

  • HIV test will be a finger prick or a saliva test.