News

Pilot program aims to improve access to testing for HIV

A Nanaimo pharmacy is the first on Vancouver Island to dispense free HIV tests as part of a year-long pilot program.

Island Health announced Monday that the Nanaimo Medicine Shoppe at Terminal Park mall will begin offering free, instant HIV tests to customers this week as part of a push to improve access to testing. It’s the third pharmacy to offer the new service, following two in the Lower Mainland. Victoria will also start HIV testing at the end of the month.

The test results take less than five minutes to deliver and anyone with non-negative results are referred to a local medical clinic to confirm the diagnosis.

Until now most people had to see a physician or nurse to get the test, which can be difficult if they don’t have good access to health services, says Dr. Dee Hoyano, medical health officer for Island Health, who adds that if this works she sees it as a very good way to increase how HIV testing gets done in communities.

“If we’re going to get zero new HIV infections on Vancouver Island people have to know if they are infected and follow up with a lifesaving treatment,” she said, in a press release.

Island Health statistics show the estimated HIV testing rate in 2013 for central Vancouver Island was 3,420 tests per 100,000 population and there were 11 new cases. It also estimated last year that 221 people in the central Island are living with HIV.

Elijah Ssemaluulu, pharmacist and owner of Nanaimo Medicine Shoppe, said the tests will give people a chance to know if they are negative or non-negative for HIV and they can schedule an appointment that’s convenient.

“There’s nothing as good as knowing who you are, knowing how healthy you are,” he said.

Island Health is looking to see 600 tests in Nanaimo over the next 12 months and will be evaluating diagnoses, cost effectiveness and quality of care.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

City acts on three nuisance properties
 
UPDATE: B.C. legislature to get security scanner
 
VIDEO: Ottawa hero Kevin Vickers receives standing ovation in House of Commons
VIDEO: Witnesses describe scene at Parliament Hill; Raw footage of Ottawa shootings
 
STARRs receive four awards at the 10K Cobble Hill run
 
VIDEO: Christmas Greetings from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Your window to Cowichan’s history at risk
 
Raptor patrols put feathered garbage gobblers on high alert
 
Inquiry slams door in face of First Nations groups

Community Events, October 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 23 edition online now. Browse the archives.