1 in 5 Canadians living with HIV are unaware of their status
The goal of the day is to effectively reach out to groups disproportionately affected by HIV that may not have access to low-barrier HIV testing services, said Vibhuti Mehra, Executive Director of ACYR.
National HIV Testing Day aims to reduce the stigma often associated with HIV testing. The first national HIV Testing Day was held in 2018 and resulted in at least 835 Canadians accessing HIV testing in a day across the country. “Building on the success of last year, this event is truly about normalizing HIV testing, increasing Canadians’ capacity to make informed decisions regarding their own sexual health, and decreasing stigma’’ says Gary Lacasse, Executive Director of CAS.
The theme for this year’s Testing Day is “Know Your Status”. 1 in 5 Canadians living with HIV are unaware that they have HIV. The only way to know for certain if you’re HIV-positive is to get tested. The sooner you know your status the sooner you can be linked to care.
About 65,000 people in Canada have HIV, and one in five HIV-positive Canadians are not aware of their status, which makes the possibility of transmitting the virus to others much more likely. HIV Testing Day was created in response to the rising HIV rates being seen in Canada. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s 2017 HIV Surveillance Report, there has been a 17.1% increase in the number of new HIV infections in Canada between 2014 and 2017. A major priority for this year’s event will be to reach the undiagnosed – Canadians who are disproportionately affected by HIV and other STBBI and/or Canadians who have never been tested for HIV and other STBBI.
On HIV Testing Day, rapid HIV tests will be administered at two locations in York Region using point-of-care testing (POCT) kits, which give results in under a minute. If a positive result is detected, blood draws will be administered, which will also be used to test for other STBBIs. Pre- and post-test counselling will be provided to all participants to help determine their risk factors. If a participant tests positive for HIV or another STBBI, they can connect with ACYR for supports and services to ensure their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
ACYR is collaborating with the Sexual Health Clinics of York Region Public Health to conduct the POC testing at these sites.
This collaborative, evidence-informed approach will sustain the benefits of the national Testing Day initiative and ensure information will be accessible to as many people as possible, to increase testing year-round so more Canadians living with HIV #KnowYourStatus and can take proper precautions to protect themselves and their sexual partners.
Information on other testing site locations outside of York Region and times is available at www.hivtestingday.ca
ACYR is the only AIDS Service Organization in York Region that provides supports and services for people living, affected by, and at risk of HIV/AIDS. For more information, please visit: www.acyr.org