BC pioneers pharmacist-administered HIV testing in pilot program

The number of diagnosed HIV cases in Canada has been falling steadily in the last five years, thanks to greater public awareness, but there's a nagging concern that not everyone who should have an HIV test is getting one.

That concern has led authorities in British Columbia to launch an innovative pilot program allowing people to visit a pharmacist for a quick, reliable HIV test rather than see their doctor or wait at a clinic.

Four pharmacies, two in Vancouver and one each in Victoria and Nanaimo, will be offering something called the INSTI test, an HIV antibody test that takes only a few minutes and gives on-the-spot results to an accuracy of 99.8 per cent.

The program, set up by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and Providence Health Care, is said to be the first of its kind in Canada, so the results are likely to be studied carefully elsewhere.

Steve Mertl reports

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