PEI

Self-administered HIV test an important step forward, says advocate

The approval of home screening kits for HIV will help prevent community spread and give Prince Edward Islanders more options for testing, says the advocacy group PEERS Alliance.

‘When folks don’t know their status, they might be unknowingly spreading HIV’

The kits, manufactured by Richmond, B.C.-based bioLytical Laboratories, are available online and testing can be done at home. (bioLytical Laboratories)

The approval of home screening kits for HIV will help prevent community spread and give Prince Edward Islanders more options for testing, says the advocacy group PEERS Alliance.

With the self-testing kit, manufactured by Richmond, B.C.-based bioLytical Laboratories, people will be able to order the test online and do it at home.

"It's really important that people looking to get tested for HIV have the option that works for them," PEERS executive director Brittney Jakubiec told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier.

There are people all across Canada, including on P.E.I., who are HIV-positive and don't know, said Jakubiec.

"This is what contributes to community spread. When folks don't know their status, they might be unknowingly spreading HIV," she said.

Testing off-Island

There is anonymous testing available on Prince Edward Island if someone is worried they have come in contact with human immunodeficiency virus. The lab tech sees only a number, not a name.

But contact with the health-care system is still required, and Jakubiec said some Islanders are choosing to get tested off-Island in order to avoid that.

"The great thing about the self-test is that it is anonymous," said Jakubiec.

"You are able to do it from the comfort of your home. You can have, maybe, your own support system around you if you wish, and you get to choose when other people know."

The test costs about $35, she said, and that cost could be a barrier for some. 

PEERS Alliance would like to see the tests made available in the province at a lower cost, perhaps through pharmacies or from community organizations such as PEERS Alliance.

A positive result from the self-test would require confirmation from a test performed by Health PEI.

When asked about the tests, Dr, Greg German, an infectious diseases consultant with Health PEI, said he wanted to emphasize that Health PEI has strong measures in place to ensure the anonymity of testing.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Island Morning

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