Montreal holds free clinic for 1st Canada-wide HIV testing day

The day is meant to encourage people to get tested, reduce stigma and gain easy access to care and treatment.

People can get tested at Gap-Vies in Saint-Michel from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

This is the first national day of HIV testing, with events happening across the country. (Getty Images)

Community organizations across the country is offering free HIV tests Wednesday as part of Canada's first national HIV testing day.

The free event is meant to encourage people to get tested, reduce stigma and gain easy access to care and treatment. 

There will be 43 sites across the country offering testing, including one in Montreal's Saint-Michel neighbourhood.

Hugo Bissonnet, executive director of Centre Sida-Amitié, which is helping organize the Montreal event, said the goal is to reach out to groups who are disproportionately affected by the disease.

"A lot of people are afraid to get tested, they're afraid of the results," he told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

Bissonnet​'s organization is offering free HIV tests at Gap-Vies, a community aid organization that focuses on the prevention and spread of HIV, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. It is located at 3330 Jarry Street East.

Test takes 1 minute

The test offered at the event can provide results in about a minute, Bissonnet explained.

He said sometimes there are many social barriers that prevent people from getting help or even knowing their status to begin with.

There's a lot of stigma, he says, and many people don't want to get tested because of the negative association with the disease.

The aim is that by 2020, 90 per cent of people with HIV will know their status and 90 per cent of them will be able to access treatment.

He says it's a goal that's entirely feasible, and pointed to examples such as New York City and San Francisco, which have already achieved the 90 per cent threshold. 

In Quebec, the issue is more with having people take the test, not with access to care, he explained.

With files from CBC Daybreak