A systematic review of HIV testing among Canadian populations

Shalane Ha, Dana Paquette, Jill Tarasuk, Jeff Dodds, Margaret Gale-Rowe, James I. Brooks, John Kim, Tom Wong


OBJECTIVE: Regular HIV testing and early detection leads to timely treatment. Appropriate treatment and care can prevent disease progression in the individual and prevent onwards transmission within the community. This review describes HIV testing coverage in populations disproportionately affected by HIV and in the general population in Canada.

METHODS: A search of published and grey literature on HIV testing uptake in Canada was conducted. Studies reporting quantitative data on testing practices (ever tested, recent testing, and regular testing), published in either English or French from 2008-2012, were included. Studies that involved testing for immigration or prenatal purposes, and post-intervention studies, were excluded. Included studies were assessed using a modified version of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Descriptive Study Critical Appraisal Tool. Pooled prevalence for percent ever tested was calculated for subpopulations and heterogeneity was estimated using the I2 statistic.

SYNTHESIS: A total of 26 studies were included in the review. The highest rates of ever having been tested were among people who inject drugs (90.6%) and inmates (90.4%); followed by men who have sex with men (83.0%); Aboriginal peoples (55.5%); and the general population (32.8%). Limited information was available on regular and recent testing.

CONCLUSION: HIV testing can reduce the number of undiagnosed cases in Canada. Future research should focus on testing coverage in certain populations, and on the extent to which populations engage in regular testing.


HIV; Canada; testing; prevention

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.105.4128