HIV, or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is the virus that causes AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Because the virus can pass from person to person through infected bodily fluids, individuals who have unprotected sexual contact or share needles are at particular risk.
HIV is not spread through fluids such as sweat, saliva or tears. It is also not spread through everyday contact with other individuals, including things like hugging, shaking hands, swimming or sharing items such as phones, dishes or glasses.
Anyone can ask to be tested for HIV either anonymously through a special clinic or by a doctor or medical clinic. People who have or probably have HIV can be ordered to take a test if it is considered necessary for the protection of public health. HIV and AIDS must be reported by doctors when testing is not done anonymously.
If there is a realistic possibility that a sexual partner could contract HIV, the person who has HIV is required to tell potential sexual partners that they are HIV positive. Disclosure is not always required and whether it is required depends on things such as the viral load of the person and whether precautions are taken such as using a condom.
Individuals who are HIV positive or who have AIDS are protected from discrimination by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. This means they cannot be discriminated against when doing things like renting a house, getting a job, going to school or receiving health care.
Some types of health and life insurance policies exclude people who are HIV positive and others do not. However, if you already have insurance a company cannot refuse to continue to insure you because you now have tested positive for HIV.
As a patient with HIV or AIDS, like any other patient, you have a right to only receive treatment, including testing, that you consent to. You also have the right to have your medical records kept confidential unless disclosure is required by law. You cannot be refused treatment in an emergency based on your HIV status or having AIDS. In other situations health care providers can refuse to treat you but you can report this to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission as discrimination.
If you are HIV positive or you have AIDS your travel to other countries can be restricted and you should check with any country you are travelling to find out their rules. In some cases being HIV positive or having AIDS can affect your ability to stay long-term in Canada if you are immigrating to Canada.