Turning Point Society of Central Alberta has begun distributing free HIV self-test kits through its in-office and outreach programs to anyone interested in knowing their HIV status.
“By allowing individuals to test for HIV when and where they want, we can help eliminate common barriers to traditional testing and empower more people to know their HIV status,” said Turning Point Society Education Coordinator Darcee Smith.
According to Smith, community members can easily access self-test kits by visiting Turning Point Society’s office, Red Deer’s Overdose Prevention Site, or connecting with a member of the organization’s outreach team.
“Our staff are here to provide ongoing support specific to the needs of each individual,” Smith said. “Whether you’d prefer to have one of our confidential staff members present while taking the test or need support in pursuing confirmatory testing and treatment, we’ll work with you to connect you with the necessary resources and referrals.”
The single-use test kits can be used at home to detect HIV antibodies in the blood and can provide non-confirmatory results in minutes.
Turning Point Society can distribute the tests as part of a partnership with the Community-Based Research Centre’s (CBRC) Test Now program. The organizations previously partnered in 2021 during Test Now’s pilot phase, which generated significant interest within the community.
“We still get calls from community members asking for self-test kits, so we’re thrilled to distribute them within the community once again.”
According to the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE), an estimated 62,790 Canadians are currently living with HIV. Fortunately, 90% of those living with HIV have received a diagnosis, 87% of those diagnosed are on treatment, and 95% of those on treatment have achieved viral suppression – meaning they are far less likely to pass HIV to others.
“The sooner you know your status, the sooner you can take action to reduce the impact.”