The Martlet visited the Cool Aid Health Centre (713 Johnson Street) in Victoria to watch the new Rapid HIV blood test in action.
The Rapid HIV Test can be completed in under a minute. The test is administered via a small lancet. Once blood is drawn from a simple poke to the finger, the Rapid HIV Test looks for HIV antibodies. The test has been proven to be 99.9 per cent effective.
A positive aspect to this test is its anonymity. No name is required and the test may be
completed during a drop-in visit to any of the three clinics in Victoria that provide it: Cool Aid Health Centre (713 Johnson Street), CRD STI Clinic (1947 Cook Street) and Island Sexual Health Clinic (200-1770 Fort Street).
Though there has been rapid oral testing available since 2005, blood-based testing has shown fewer false positive results. Additionally, as Eric Berndt, Communications & Public Relations Officer of AIDS Vancouver Island, explains, “The oral quick-test is currently not available in Canada; it is available in the U.S.”
When people test at home, there is an increased risk that they will not seek treatment or support if necessary.
“Getting an HIV test in a clinic is beneficial because health providers can provide pre- and post-test counselling and provide information, support and referrals to other supports, including treatment options,” says Berndt.
Since the test can provide results in under a minute, it is hoped that the rapid test will remove the stigma and anxiety usually associated with HIV testing.
Given that there are 13,000 people with HIV living in B.C., and a quarter of those people don’t even know they are infected, the test couldn’t be more important.
To contact Victoria’s Cool Aid Society about the test, call 250-385-1476.