December 8, 2010
Public health officials in British Columbia are testing the feasibility of offering an HIV test to anyone seeking care at a doctor's office, clinic or hospital.
The initiative, called Stop HIV/AIDS, is funded by a four-year, $48 million (US $47.5 million) grant to the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, Providence Health Care, and the B.C. Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.
British Columbia reports about 400 new HIV diagnoses each year, and about 13,000 residents are HIV-positive.
One of the main goals of expanded testing is to remove the stigma associated with asking for or accepting an HIV test, said health authority physician Patricia Daly. Some 20 percent of men surveyed at gay events had not disclosed their homosexuality to their physicians, she said.
British Columbia's push for routine testing is consistent with a policy of the US CDC, which calls for routine voluntary HIV screening in all health care settings for patients ages 13 to 64.