If you’re an adult living in Vancouver or Prince George, British Columbia, and have had sex, the government has a question for you.
No, they’re not looking for pointers. The province has funded a four-year, $48 million program with the intention of getting a lot more people tested for HIV, so adults living in the area who visit their doctor will be asked to take an HIV test next time they go in for a medical visit at a hospital, lab or clinic. The tests aren’t mandatory, but, as Pamela Fayerman of the Vancouver Sun writes, they likely won’t be “won't be able to avoid the HIV testing guerrilla marketing campaign delivered via social media, bus shelters and websites. The “seek and treat” program is meant to identify up to 3,500 more cases of HIV in the province. Because the cost of treating HIV and AIDS is so high, the program is expected to be cost effective even if only a couple of cases per thousand tests are identified.
Dr. Reka Gustafson of Vancouver Coastal Health says offering tests to a wider range of people— like anyone who has ever had sex— will reduce the stigma of testing and improve rates of early detection.
If the new screening program is effective, it is “expected it will become a part of routine health care.”