Pilot project to expand HIV testing in Vancouver hospitals
A new pilot project is set to expand HIV/AIDS testing in Vancouver hospitals.
Beginning October 3, physicians will begin offering HIV tests to every patient requiring blood work who is admitted to the city's St. Paul's and Mount Saint Joseph hospitals. Testing will be offered to patients at Vancouver General in November, and at University of British Columbia hospital in 2012.
The project will end in March 2013. After that, the results will be analyzed and considered for expansion. The tests will require consent of patients, and the results will remain confidential.
There are an estimated 3,500 people living in B.C. who are not aware they are HIV positive, according to the Vancouver Health Authority.
"Still today HIV infection is not being diagnosed early enough," said Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at St. Paul's Hospital.
"This is a serious issue as it can lead to fully preventable morbidity, mortality and HIV transmission. Given the remarkable efficacy of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy, it's more important than ever for people to be diagnosed and access treatment as early as possible."
The initiative is part of the provincial Stop HIV/AIDS campaign, a four-year, $48-million program funded by the Ministry of Health focused in Vancouver and Prince George.