May 14, 2014
This article was reported by The Globe and Mail.
The Globe and Mail reported that the government of British Columbia recently announced that it will be the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce guidelines for its healthcare providers to encourage all residents to get HIV tests. The guidelines include offering HIV testing as part of an adult's routine health tests. The guidelines recommend healthcare providers offer HIV testing every five years to 18-70-year-old patients; every year for high-risk groups; and once for patients older than 70. The object is to find all individuals who are HIV-positive, diagnose their disease early so they can begin treatment, and remove the stigma associated with the disease.
Health Minster Terry Lake explained that the government decided to adopt the Vancouver area's four-year Stop HIV/AIDS program for use in the entire province after routine HIV testing diagnosed HIV in at least 60 individuals who were not linked to individuals or behaviors considered high risk. Lake stated that an estimated 12,000 British Columbians are HIV-positive and an estimated 3,500 of them are unaware that they are infected. To demonstrate his belief in regular testing as part of a healthy lifestyle, Lake volunteered for his first test, and encouraged everyone to learn their HIV status.
Until this change in policy, British Columbia routinely offered HIV testing only to pregnant women; Lake reported the program for pregnant women has almost eliminated perinatal HIV transmission in the province.
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