Starting this month, patients in Bella Bella will be offered an HIV test as a part of their regular care. When patients at the R.W. Large Memorial Hospital Emergency Department and the Bella Bella Health Centre have regular blood tests, doctors and nurses will ask if patients would like to be tested for HIV.
Anyone who is sexually active should be tested annually. Diagnosing HIV early allows people to benefit from treatment. And when patients regularly take HIV medication, they’re less likely to pass the virus onto others.
HIV status affects many aspects of clinical care including treatment of infections and cancers, as well as basic health care such as immunizations.
Since VCH and Providence Health Care began this routine HIV testing more than 120 positive cases have been diagnosed from hospital alone, mostly in emergency departments.
About one quarter of people who have HIV don’t know it; this adds up to about 3,500 BC residents.
Routine HIV testing is already performed in Vancouver, Richmond, North Shore, and in Sea to Sky.