Getting tested for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) has just become easier for residents across the Interior Health (IH) region, now that On Demand testing is available at all IH laboratories (http://bit.ly/2PD39aL).
Patients can now visit any IH lab – including the labs at the Ashcroft Hospital, Lillooet Hospital, and the Clinton Health and Wellness Center – and get an HIV test without first having to visit their doctor or nurse practitioner. Patients can fill out a laboratory requisition on their own and take it to the lab, ask the lab for the test to be done, or ask to have the test added to the existing bloodstreams that are being ordered.
"Thanks to early diagnosis and advancements in treatment and care, HIV is a chronic, manageable condition," says Adrian Dix, Health Minister. "The first step is to learn whether you have HIV, and that's why I applaud Interior Health for making HIV testing more accessible to British Columbians."
On Demand HIV testing started in Interior Health in 2016, with an innovative partnership with Valley Medical Laboratories in Okanagan. Based on the success of that program, Interior Health is excited to be expanding the service across the region.
"Interior Health is committed to providing accessible and patient-centric care for people in ways that respect their dignity and privacy," says Doug Cochrane, Interior Health Board Chair.
"By eliminating barriers to testing and enabling people to be tested on their own terms, we make it easier for individuals who test HIV positive to access the care they need."
Early diagnosis is vital for the treatment of HIV, but one in four people living with HIV do not know it.
"When people have easy access to HIV testing, they are far more willing to get tested," says Maja Karlsson, Health Risk Management and Health Outreach Interior Health Manager. "I encourage everyone to get tested for HIV as part of their health routine."
Patients who request a test at an IH lab will be provided with information on the test and follow-up process for both negative and positive results. Results are available after two weeks after the test. There is no follow-up for patients who test negative. 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.
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 doctor or nurse practitioner.
On Demand HIV testing is a partnership between the Interior Health Laboratory Services and the STOP HIV program, which aims to reduce transmission and improve the health outcomes of those who live with HIV.
To find the IH lab nearest you, please visit www.interiorhealth.ca/findlab.
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