On demand HIV testing now available throughout Interior Health region | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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On demand HIV testing now available throughout Interior Health region

Sheila Cox, pictured in this photo submitted by Interior Health, is a lab accession supervisor at Kelowna General Hospital and one of many staff members working to make HIV testing more accessible.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Interior Health Authority
November 01, 2018 - 11:02 AM

Testing for HIV is getting less complicated for residents throughout the Interior Health region, thanks to an improvement in testing protocols.

Starting today, Nov. 1, patients can visit any Interior Health lab and get an HIV test without having to first visit their physician or nurse practitioner.

Interior Health says in a media release patients are now able to directly fill out a lab requisition form on their own, ask the lab for a test to be done, or ask to have the test added to existing bloodwork being ordered.

“Today, thanks to early diagnosis and advancements in treatment and care, HIV is a chronic, manageable condition,” Minister of Health Adrian Dix says in the release. “The first step is learning whether you have HIV, and that’s why I applaud Interior Health for making HIV testing more accessible for British Columbians.”

On demand HIV testing has been available in the Okanagan since 2016 through a partnership with Valley Medical Laboratories, Interior Health says. The service is now expanding, based on the success of that program.

Interior Health says early diagnosis is vital for treatment of HIV, but one in four people living with the disease don’t know it.

“When people have easy access to HIV testing, they are far more willing to get tested,” Interior Health manager of harm reduction and health outreach Maja Karlsson says in the release. “I encourage everyone to get tested for HIV as part of their health routine.”

Results of the tests are available within two weeks. Those who test positive will be contacted by a nurse who will provide support, education, follow-up care and referral to a physcian. Those who test negative will not require additional follow up.

To find the Interior Health lab nearest you, go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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