Getting tested for HIV is now as simple as walking into an Interior Health Laboratory.
Interior Health announced today, Nov. 1 that on-demand testing is now available across the Interior.
Manager of Harm Reduction and Health Outreach, Maja Karlsson says this builds on an innovative partnership in 2016 with Valley Medical Laboratories in the Okanagan that provided HIV testing to 30 to 40 people a month without them having to first visit their physician or nurse practitioner.
“That may not sound like a huge number but I think if that’s 30 or 40 people who otherwise might not have accessed a test it’s a huge thing,” says Karlsson.
“We knew right from the start from the feedback that people had given us that it was something they felt was important and worthwhile, and we knew that we needed to make it an opportunity for the rest of the health authority. Logistically we just had to work through some different details and now here we are.”
Patients who request a test at an IH lab will be provided with information about the test and the follow-up process for both negative and positive results. Results are available two weeks after the test occurs. Patients who test positive will be contacted by a nurse who will provide support, education, follow-up care, and referral to a physician when needed.
Interior Health is currently the only health authority in British Columbia offering on-demand HIV testing.
“We think that is probably the most important things-easier access to be able to control of your own healthcare and being able to walk into the lab in your local community and just request this test. I think this is going to make it a lot easier for people to access barrier-free healthcare,” Karlsson says.
“I have partners in other health authorities and other parts of the province who we’ve been having discussions with so I expect that we’ll start to see this innovative program in other regions as well.”
Non-nominal testing for HIV is not done through the On Demand program. If a patient wishes to test without their name, this can be done through a family physician or nurse practitioner.
“Today, thanks to early diagnosis and advancements in treatment and care, HIV is a chronic, manageable condition,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health in a news release.
“The first step is learning whether you have HIV, and that’s why I applaud Interior Health for making HIV testing more accessible for British Columbians.”
To find the IH lab nearest you, please visit interiorhealth.ca/findlab