Ottawa Citizen (11.09.11) - Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Under a new initiative, all sexually active adults in
Vancouver and Prince George will be asked to undergo HIV
testing at their next lab, hospital or medical clinic visit.
An estimated 3,500 people in British Columbia have HIV but do
not know it, and Canada's first such comprehensive "seek-and-
treat" pilot aims to reach them.
The four-year, $48 million (US $47.1 million) campaign is
intentionally trying to reach people outside of usual HIV risk
groups, said Dr. Reka Gustafson, a medical health officer in
communicable disease control with Vancouver Coastal Health.
Funded by the province, the initiative will be publicized
through social media, bus shelters, and websites.
Family doctors are being urged to ask their adult patients to
get an HIV test if they are having other types of blood
checks. It is cheaper if a test is included with other routine
blood work. The initial HIV test costs $10-$25 (US $9.82-
$24.56) if negative. More tests are needed to confirm a
positive diagnosis, with lab costs running up to about $300
Even before this week's ramping-up of the seek-and-treat
campaign, increased HIV testing by hospitals and doctors had
already led to more cases being detected. Many patients
recently admitted to or treated at St. Paul's, Mount St.
Joseph, and Vancouver General Hospital have been offered HIV
testing. University of British Columbia Hospital will join the
effort next year.
Intensive-, palliative-, and psychiatric-care patients will
not be included in the screening program.