June 27, 2018

Residents Encouraged to Get Tested for HIV

Second Annual HIV Testing Day Recognized in Saskatchewan

Free HIV testing will be offered at public events across Saskatchewan today,  in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of testing and reducing HIV stigma.

“Getting tested for HIV is important so people can receive timely diagnosis, treatment and support, or confirm HIV negative status and promote actions to prevent HIV,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said.  “Our government has invested additional funding to provide full coverage of HIV medications to ensure people have access to the treatment they need.”

The provincial government has been providing close to $4 million annually to support HIV programs and initiatives.

In April 2018 it announced $700,000 in additional funding for HIV:

  • $600,000 for full coverage of HIV medications; and
  • $100,000 to AIDS Saskatoon and Westside Community Clinic for support services.

There is also free formula for infants of mothers living with HIV.

Residents can get an HIV test through a physician, nurse practitioner, local public health office or at testing clinics (some of which offer anonymous testing).  Information on HIV, including  testing, is available at www.saskatchewan.ca/hiv or www.skhiv.ca.  You can also call HealthLine 811, a 24-hour service for all residents.

HIV testing has increased significantly in Saskatchewan in the past decade.  More than 81,000 tests were done in 2017, 71 per cent more than in 2008.  HIV Point of Care test sites have more than tripled since 2012, from 20 to 77 sites.

HIV Point of Care testing is a rapid screening test that provides preliminary results on the same day.  There is also a test that can be done by any healthcare worker by collecting a blood sample from a finger poke which provides preliminary results within two weeks.  These tests are easier for people and expand access in rural and remote areas of the province.

In 2017, the Ministry of Health ran a public awareness campaign to promote testing and help reduce the stigma that prevents people from getting tested and seeking treatment.  The campaign video Talk, Test, Support recently got the attention of OUTtv, Canada’s only National LGBTQ TV Network.  The network will air the video between June 27 and July 8 as a public service announcement for HIV Testing Day.  The video will also be shown locally on Access Communications’ Prairie Pride show to promote the testing day.

About HIV Testing Day 

First organized in Saskatchewan in 2017, HIV Testing Day - June 27 is a collaborative effort between community based organizations, the Ministry of Health, Saskatchewan Health Authority, the Saskatchewan HIV Collaborative, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada and frontline service providers.  Saskatchewan was the second province to adopt an annual day of testing, following Ontario in 2013.