Vancouver Ups War on HIV: Wants to Expand Testing in Bid to End the Disease
Vancouver public health officials want to expand HIV/AIDS testing to every sexually active person who visits a family physician or is admitted to a hospital emergency department. Vancouver is the first Canadian city to advocate routine HIV testing in these settings; the push for it comes in the final year of a four-year program.
Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, said a goal is to convince family doctors to give HIV tests as routinely as other blood tests, even if people are not considered high-risk.
Daly said HIV testing is considered cost-effective if it identifies one in 1,000 cases. The stepped-up testing in Vancouver has increased the identification of HIV cases to one in 100. Almost everyone offered an HIV test accepts, and testing pregnant women has dramatically decreased the rate of infection from mothers to newborns.
Ken Buchanan, with the AIDS advocacy group Positive Living, voiced his concern that widespread testing will not give patients sufficient privacy. “But we do encourage people to be tested and the sooner they know whether they’re HIV-positive, the sooner they can get on medication,” he said.
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