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.
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.