Designated Anonymous Testing Sites
HIV infection is considered a condition of “public health significance” under Ontario law. An HIV-positive result on a standard laboratory HIV test is automatically reported by the Public Health Laboratory to local public health authorities. This reporting enables the local public health unit to follow-up with the client to offer support, linkage to care, and ensure that a client’s former partners (sexual and drug use) are notified, without revealing their identity. However, if individuals do not wish to be reported to local public health, they can choose to test for HIV anonymously.
Anonymous testing allows a person to have an HIV test without providing their name or other identifying information. An anonymous HIV test requisition form is used for testing purposes so that clients’ results cannot be linked back to their identity. All information pertaining to anonymous testing is kept in files separate from nominal files. While test counsellors may be aware of the identity of the person they are testing, local public health authorities will not be. Only clinics/sites designated to deliver anonymous HIV testing under Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act, can provide anonymous testing. This designation cannot be transferred to other sites.
Individuals seeking anonymous testing services can contact the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario or eChat service to be directed to the anonymous testing site nearest them.
Anonymous testing was introduced in Ontario in 1992. There are currently 38 designated anonymous testing sites providing either standard laboratory and/or rapid point-of-care testing in communities across Ontario. Anonymous testing addresses the confidentiality concerns of many at-risk clients, and it allows clients without health care coverage in Ontario to be tested.
Anonymous testing has proven to be a highly effective way of reaching priority populations who fear HIV stigma and who may already be experiencing discrimination (such as homophobia, anti-immigrant or drug use stigma). Although less than 3% of all HIV tests done in Ontario are anonymous, people who test anonymously are nearly five times more likely to have a positive test than those who test nominally (using their name). Learn more about testing and diagnosis outcomes in Ontario.