Several Alberta hospitals to offer rapid HIV tests

The Alberta government says it will be trying out rapid HIV testing at several hospitals across the province this spring.
The province will offer rapid HIV testing at Alberta hospitals this spring. Devin Heroux reports. 2:24
HIV rapid tests will be offered on a trial basis at Alberta hospitals this spring. (CBC)

The Alberta government says it will be trying out rapid HIV testing at several hospitals across the province this spring.

Rapid HIV tests give results in minutes, while the standard test can take up to 10 days.

Andrea Carter of AIDS Calgary says it is time for Alberta to catch up with other provinces.

"I've done some education with people, I'll say, 'OK, if I could offer you a rapid test and you could get your results in 20 minutes would you be tested?' They'll say absolutely," she said. "If I then say how many of you are going to go down to the clinic and get your test and then wait 10 days for your result and people say, 'Ehh, probably not.'"

She says with the standard test people often don't come back to get the results.

"So that's a concern right there. [There is] not that ability for follow up, for some education, for some connection to resources," she said.

Carter say a pilot project is running at the Sheldon Chumir Centre, but it's open just one day a week for two hours.

Safeworks Calgary also does rapid tests from it's mobile van.

Carter says Alberta should standardize the rapid test.

"Just as a routine part of your health care and your health screening and that can normalize it a bit as well, right, if ... everyone gets [a] HIV test once a year," she said.

Alberta Health says the hospital program is expected to expand in the coming years, and it's checking out what training and resources community groups need to also deliver the tests.