Free HIV test pilot protects client privacy: Island Health

A new pilot project that offers free HIV testing though pharmacies balances patient confidentiality with the safety risks to the public, an Island Health spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The test is available at Medicine Shoppe pharmacies in Victoria at 104-1964 Fort St. and in Nanaimo at 22-1150 Terminal Park Ave. Free HIV testing is already available through community testing sites, hospitals, walk-in-clinics and through family physicians, said Island Health.

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HIV is a reportable disease, which means that by legislation, all positive results must be reported, Suzanne Germain said in an email. The pharmacy testing pilot provides a safe and confidential opportunity for HIV testing, Germain said.

“Any individual who gets a non-negative test result will be referred to a partnering walk-in medical clinic [or patients can go to their doctor] for further lab testing to confirm the result,” she said.

“As per the provincial reporting requirements, any HIV test result that is confirmed positive through this followup lab testing will be shared by the physician who ordered the test.”

The doctor has the discretion to identify the patient only by using initials in reporting the illness to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, said Germain.

The reporting requirements ensure that accurate information is kept and that individuals and their partners get appropriate treatment, support and followup, said Germain.

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