Getting tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) just got easier for residents across the Interior Health (IH) region, now that on-demand testing is available at all IH laboratories.
As of today, patients can visit any IH lab and get an HIV test without having to first visit their physician or nurse practitioner.
In the South Okanagan, the closest IH laboratory is located within the South Okanagan General Hospital in Oliver.
Patients can fill out a lab 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 existing bloodwork being ordered.
Early diagnosis is vital for treatment of HIV, but one in four people living with HIV don’t know it, the IH says.
“When people have easy access to HIV testing, they are far more willing to get tested,” said Maja Karlsson, Interior Health Manager of Harm Reduction and Health Outreach. “I encourage everyone to get tested for HIV as part of their health routine.”
On-demand HIV testing began in Interior Health in 2016 with an innovative partnership with Valley Medical Laboratories in the Okanagan. Based on the success of that program, Interior Health is excited to now be expanding the service across the region.
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.
There is no additional 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.
On-demand HIV testing is a partnership between Interior Health Laboratory Services and the STOP HIV program, which aims to reduce transmission and improve the health outcomes of those living with HIV.