Main | Thursday, July 19, 2012

British Columbia Launches Campaign To Test Every Sexually Active Person For HIV

British Columbia has launched an ambitious campaign to give an HIV test to every person who has ever been sexually active.
The sweeping approach is an attempt to catch the estimated 1 per cent of people who are unaware they are HIV-positive and aren’t taking advantage of an effective treatment program that is available provincially. A key component of the new project is an HIV antibody test that produces results in about 30 seconds, from a single drop of blood taken from a person’s fingertip. “If you have HIV and don’t know it, you can’t do anything [to get treated],” Reka Gustafson, medical director of communicable disease control for Vancouver Coastal Health, said at a news conference Wednesday. Julio Montaner, director of B.C.’s Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, described the test, which was developed in Vancouver, as “a very important new step” in the fight against AIDS.
Thanks to an earlier aggressive campaign to get those already infected on HIV medications, the province claims to have reduced new infections by 95% since the mid-90s. (Persons taking HIV medications are statistically considered less potentially infectious than a random person unaware of his status.) Vancouver also offers "safe injection" sites where IV drug users are provided new needles for use on the premises. (Tipped by JMG reader bstewart23)

RELATED: In 2008 New York City announced a similar campaign to test every adult in the Bronx.

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