Testing is the best way to know whether you have contracted an sexually transmitted blood borne infections (STBBI). In Québec, testing is free for anyone with a Health Insurance Card. However, there may be fees for certain screening center, so don’t hesitate to ask for more information before your appointment.
When should I get tested?
- You had unprotected sexual relations or there was a problem with your means of protection (a torn condom, for example).
- You had sexual contact with someone who has an STBBI.
- You or your partner had sexual relations with someone else.
- You or your partner have STBBI symptoms.
- You have a stable partner and would like to stop using condoms and dental dams. As a result, you both decide to get tested.
- You or your partner have been exposed to blood or other bodily fluids that may be contaminated (semen, vaginal secretions, or breast milk).
- You or your partner shared paraphernalia used in preparing, injecting, or inhaling drugs.
- You or your partner were tattooed or pierced using unsterilized equipment.
What is a screening test like?
Some screening centers require you to make an appointment while others allow walk-in testing for greater convenience. First, the healthcare professional you meet with will ask you a few questions in order to evaluate which infections to test for.
For example, they may ask:
- About the symptoms you are experiencing
- If you have had unprotected sexual contact
- About the type of sexual contact you have had (oral, vaginal, anal)
- If you have multiple sexual partners
- If you have consumed drugs through injection or inhalation
Your answers to these questions are confidential and the healthcare professional isn’t there to judge you.
Depending on the test, the healthcare professional may:
- Ask for a urine sample
- Take a blood sample
- Use a swab (an instrument resembling a cotton bud) to take a sample from your throat, cervix, anus, or urethra; depending on the potentially infected area
- Examine your external genitals
- Examine your uterus and ovaries
- Use a speculum (an instrument that is inserted into the vagina to open the entrance to the vagina) to examine the inside of the vagina and the cervix
Keep in mind that you can always refuse or accept any of the recommended tests. If you wish to be tested for HIV, you must specifically request it, since it is not always part of routine STBBI testing.
You will not immediately get the test results. It is important to use a condom or dental dam if you have sexual relations while awaiting your results.
What happens if my test is positive?
The healthcare professional will inform you of potential treatments and precautions to take in order to avoid transmission. They may also provide you with information about how to talk to your current and past partners about it.
Where should I get tested?
Here are the places you can get tested in Québec:
- Your family doctor’s clinic
- The CLSC nearest to where you live
- A specialized sexual health clinic
- A youth clinic
To help you find the services nearest to you, type the keywords ‘testing’ and ‘STBBI’ and ‘the name of your city’ into your preferred internet search engine. You can also call Info-Santé (811) or Tel-jeunes to get directed to the right service.