2nd National HIV Testing Day event hosted at AVI in the Westshore
Westshore AVI Health and Community Services and communities across Canada announce the 2nd annual national HIV Testing Day. This year’s event will be held on June 27th, at local testing sites in 70 communities across the country. The goal of the day is to effectively target groups disproportionately affected by the virus
National HIV Testing Day aims to reduce the stigma often associated with HIV testing. “Building on the success of last year, this event is truly about normalizing HIV testing, increasing Canadians’ capacity to make informed decisions regarding their own sexual health, and decreasing stigma’’ says Gary Lacasse, Executive Director of CAS.
The theme for this year’s Testing Day is “Know Your Status”. 1 in 5 Canadians living with HIV are unaware that they have HIV. The only way to know for certain if you’re HIV-positive is to get tested. The sooner you know your status the sooner you can be linked to care.
About 65,000 people in Canada have HIV, and one in five HIV-positive Canadians are not aware of their status, which makes the possibility of transmitting the virus to others much more likely. HIV Testing Day was created in response to the rising HIV rates being seen in Canada. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s 2017 HIV Surveillance Report, there has been a 17.1% increase in the number of new HIV infections in Canada between 2014 and 2017. A major priority for this year’s event will be to reach the undiagnosed – Canadians who are disproportionately affected by HIV and other STBBI and/or Canadians who have never been tested for HIV and other STBBI.
A new component of this project will be the presence of U=U spokespeople at various testing sites. U=U (Undetectable=Untransmittable) is an initiative based on the scientific consensus that when you achieve viral suppression from taking HIV medicine and continue to stay at undetectable levels of HIV, you can stay healthy and have no risk of transmitting the virus to others. Where possible, a person living with HIV who is undetectable will be available at participating testing sites to explain the campaign and how someone who is living with HIV can have a healthy sex life and not pass the virus along to others.
On HIV Testing Day, rapid HIV tests will be administered using point-of-care testing (POCT) kits (where available), which give results in under a minute. If a positive result is detected, blood draws will be administered, which will also be used to test for other STBBIs. Pre- and post-test counselling will be provided to all participants to help determine their risk factors. If a participant tests positive for HIV or another STBBI, the local community based organization will be able to form a long-term relationship with the individual and work toward ensuring their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
“Despite huge advancements in HIV research, stigma still prevents many people from taking the first step: getting tested. Our 1 minute HIV test is used anywhere from remote outreach settings to busy city testing events, helping to alleviate stigma and other barriers. Being fast and reliable, it provides flexibility to tailor counselling to the person and can help link more people to care.” – Rick Galli, of bioLytical Laboratories, the maker of INSTI.
This collaborative, evidence-informed approach will sustain the benefits of the national Testing Day initiative and ensure information will be accessible to as many people as possible, to increase testing year-round so more Canadians living with HIV #KnowYourStatus and can take proper precautions to protect themselves and their sexual partners.
Our local event takes place at 111-2787 Jacklin Rd on June 27th, 2019 from 5-8pm and features;
- HIV info session covering the latest facts about HIV and PrEP
- Dynamic Poz speakers
- Everyone welcome drop-in testing event
- Snacks and refreshments
- 5:00-5:30pm MP Randall Garrison will be giving opening remarks and talking about the work he’s done to combat HIV/AIDS plus there will be conversations with HIV poz folks and a U=U champion will be on site
- 5:30-6:00pm HIV and PrEP Update, everyone welcome, snacks etc.
- 6:00-8:00pm drop in, everyone welcome HIV and hepatitis C tests