The overall purpose of the program is to increase uptake of HIV testing in the province by providing an acceptable and accessible alternative to standard HIV testing.
This program provides POC tests and supplies free-of-charge to health care settings that meet the program standards.
In August 2010, the BCCDC was asked by the BC Ministry of Health to introduce a Provincial POC HIV Testing Program to oversee a centralized, province-wide HIV point of care testing, distribution, and quality assurance program funded through the provincial pilot project, Seek and Treat for the Optimal Prevention of HIV/AIDS (STOP HIV/AIDS). The two year program officially launched on April 1, 2011, and since then POC HIV testing has been used in all health authorities in British Columbia (see map) as well as some First Nations communities.
Point of Care (POC) HIV tests (also known as “rapid” HIV tests) are HIV antibody screening tests which can be performed on-site while the client waits and provide results within minutes. People who screen “non-reactive” (negative) on the POC HIV test will know their HIV status within a few minutes and will not have to wait and return at a later date for their results (as is now required with standard laboratory HIV testing using blood draw). People who screen “reactive” (preliminarily positive) on a POC HIV test will have another test done to confirm the result, this second time using standard laboratory testing.
BCCDC provides provincial guidelines for implementing POC in communities and works with sites throughout the province to optimize their readiness and ability to use the tests through developing partnerships, assessment and training of health practitioners. The program provides ongoing training, guidelines, support, test kits and supplies, documentation templates, troubleshooting, as well as a centralized repository of provincial POC HIV test results.
POC Site Start-up and Resources
Any health care setting in BC may be eligible to be a POC site with the provincial POC program including public and First Nations health units, hospitals, physician and nurse practitioner practices, and non-governmental organizations. There are several steps to starting up a new POC site (see here). The provincial POC program provides program resources including modifiable templates and guides to assist in the set up of new sites and to support existing ones (see here).
Contact InformationProvincial Point of Care HIV Testing Program
BC Centre for Disease Control
655 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, BC, V5Z 4R4