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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
CANADA: British Columbia Agency Advocates HIV-Testing Most Adults
Pamela Fayerman, Postmedia News
November 9, 2011
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 (US $295).

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.