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Point of Care (Rapid) HIV Testing

The Point of Care (POC) HIV Testing Program oversees testing, distribution and quality assurance of POC HIV tests for the BC Ministry of Health. The Program works with Health Authority partners to most effectively distribute these limited resources.

Funding is provided by Seek and Treat for the Optimal Prevention of HIV/AIDS (STOP HIV/AIDS). The program supports POC HIV testing in all BC health authorities (see map), including First Nations Health Authority/Aboriginal communities.

The 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 and have approval from their regional Health Authority.

Seeing test results

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 (preliminary positive) on a POC HIV test will have a blood test done to confirm the result. Standard laboratory HIV testing in BC detects HIV at least 7-10 days before the virus is detected by the POC test.

Guidelines for site locations

BCCDC provides guidelines for implementing POC in communities and works with testing locations 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.

Program goals

Common objectives among HIV-related strategies in B.C include:

Prevention of new HIV infections, reduction of the number of HIV positive individuals who are unaware of their HIV status, and linkage of HIV positive individuals to care, treatment, and support services are common objectives among HIV-related strategies in B.C.

Expansion and increased availability of HIV testing is one strategy identified in B.C. at provincial and health authority levels to help achieve these objectives, and is a critical component of the STOP HIV/AIDS (Hope to Health) Project. Expansion of testing is considered one component of comprehensive HIV-related services, generally with emphasis on regional populations with a higher prevalence of HIV infection, and as a means of connecting people with HIV to appropriate care and support. Expansion of testing into rural and remote communities has also been identified as a priority.


Location start-up

Any health care setting in BC may be eligible to be a POC testing location with the provincial POC program  - this may include public and First Nations/Aboriginal health units, physician and nurse practitioner practices, and non-governmental organizations. 

Test kit resources are limited and allocated per year, per regional Health Authority, based on population size and burden of HIV disease. Health Authority partners (see Table) decide where and how these resources are allocated based on their HIV Testing Implementation Plans.

Not all applicants are approved for a given fiscal year, and the level of support may change over time, based on what kit resources are available.

Health Authority partners collaborate with First Nations/aboriginal community representatives to discuss HIV testing needs in communities falling within their geographic area.

Resources may be available for single testing events such as Health/Wellness Fairs. Please discuss with your appropriate Health Authority partner.

There are several steps to request access to HIV POC test kits, and/or support as a testing location:

  • work with your health authority / health director to assess readiness for POC in your community (see Readiness Checklist and Implementation Considerations in Resources)
  • contact the Provincial POC HIV Testing Program and Health Authority partners to discuss the possibility of POC implementation or one-time use
  • receive training about HIV testing and how to use the POC test kit (see the courses in Education & Development)
  • ensure that your site is ready for testing and storage of POC test kits and quality control materials

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 Resources).

If you are interested in offering POC HIV testing at your location, please contact the program to receive further information about the test and the steps for implementation.

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SOURCE: Point of Care (Rapid) HIV Testing ( )
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