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HIV testing for all hospital patients in Prince George starts Monday

Optional HIV testing will become a routine part of check-ins to the University Hospital of Northern B.C. (Northern Health)




December 1 marks World AIDS Day in Canada, and on December 2 Northern Health begins a new initiative aimed at reducing the spread of the infectious disease. Starting Monday, all patients over the age of 14 who are admitted to the hospital will be offered a HIV test.

According to Northern Health's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Susan MacDonald, this initiative is being based on success in the Lower Mainland. "Up to 94 per cent of Lower Mainland patients who are offered an HIV test as part of routine hospital care say 'Yes', because they appreciate knowing that they're not being singled out to take the test," MacDonald writes in a blog post explaining the changes

Vanessa West is the Executive Director at Positive Living North, an organization providing support to people living with HIV/AIDS in northern B.C. She says these changes are an important step in reducing the spread of the infectious disease. "The earlier you are aware if you are HIV positive, then you are able to access medications and supports rather than finding out later on," she says. "When you have a population of people living with HIV, 25 percent of them don't know they are HIV positive, and they are then causing 75 percent of the new infections... so really it's about everyone getting out there and getting an HIV test."

Listen to Vanessa West speak about the stigmas that still surround HIV/AIDS and the challenges facing people diagnosed with the disease in remote and rural communities:

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