McGuinty Government Advances New Options For HIV Testing



    Free Point Of Care HIV Testing To Give Results In 60 Seconds. Also Nearly
    Doubling the Number of HIV Testing Sites

    TORONTO, June 22 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is launching a
groundbreaking HIV testing program - the first of its-kind in Canada - that
will offer free, on-site testing that determines whether or not an individual
has developed HIV and adding 24 new anonymous testing sites with an emphasis
on northern and rural communities, Health and Long-Term Care Minister George
Smitherman announced today.
    "By making HIV testing faster, we are making a stressful process easier,"
said Smitherman. "We are also helping to keep all Ontarians healthy by
encouraging people to get tested and thereby reduce the number of HIV-infected
people who remain undiagnosed. It also means if you are positive, the support
and appropriate treatment can be available faster."
    Today's announcement also includes the creation of 24 additional
anonymous HIV testing sites with a focus on providing equitable access across
the province. Testing at these sites is expected to begin this fall. Once they
are open, there will be 50 anonymous HIV testing sites across Ontario.
    The point of care HIV testing program will be available in designated
anonymous HIV testing sites, sexually transmitted infections clinics and
community health centres around the province.
    The point of care test screens for the antibodies of HIV in blood. Within
60 seconds, a drop of blood can determine whether or not an individual has
developed antibodies to HIV. The test is as accurate as current laboratory
based testing in Ontario and the whole process takes 20 minutes, including
pre-test counselling, test administration and post-test counselling. A test
that shows the presence of antibodies will require additional blood analysis
from a laboratory to confirm a positive HIV test result.
    "The expansion of anonymous testing combined with point of care testing
will provide greater access to HIV testing for Ontarians," Ron Rosenes, Member
of the Board, Sherbourne Health Centre. "This is an important milestone in HIV
testing."
    "This is a huge step forward in our ongoing response to HIV/AIDS in
Ontario," said Jane Greer, Coordinator/Counsellor, Hassle Free Clinic. "We
would like to commend the Ontario government for being the first in Canada to
make Point of Care HIV tests publicly available."
    "About 30 per cent of people who are HIV positive in Ontario are unaware
of their status," said Frank McGee, Coordinator, AIDS Bureau. "We understand
people may fear knowing the results, but getting tested will help alleviate
the anxiety and will make a difference in the effectiveness of treatment."
    Today's initiative is part of the McGuinty government's plan for
innovation in public health care, building a system that delivers on three
priorities - keeping Ontarians healthy, reducing wait times and providing
better access to doctors and nurses.
    This news release, along with other media materials, such as matte
stories and audio clips, on other subjects, are available on our website at:
http://www.health.gov.on.ca under the News Media section.
    For more information on achievements in health care, visit:
www.resultsontario.gov.on.ca.

    Disponible en français.



    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    
               NEW 60 SECOND TEST AND EXPANDED TESTING PROGRAM
                    PROVIDES MORE OPTIONS FOR HIV TESTING
    

    POINT OF CARE HIV TESTING
    -------------------------

    The rapid Point of Care (POC) is a reliable test that screen for
antibodies to HIV in blood. Within 60 seconds, a drop of blood can determine
whether or not an individual has developed antibodies to HIV. The test is much
faster than traditional HIV testing which takes two weeks to receive results.
    The free test is as accurate as current laboratory based testing in
Ontario and the whole process takes about 20 minutes including pre-test
counseling, test administration, and post-test counseling. A test that shows
the presence of antibodies will require additional blood analysis from a
laboratory to confirm a positive HIV result. If the test does not show the
presence of antibodies, then a client is considered to be negative, unless the
infection occurred within the "window period" of anti-body development,
usually up to three months.
    POC testing is currently available through a pilot program at Toronto's
Hassle Free Clinic, a sexually transmitted infections clinic and anonymous HIV
testing site. Hassle Free Clinic's successful program was initiated in May
2006. The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's POC program, the
first for Canada, will provide POC testing at Ontario's 50 anonymous HIV
testing sites, and some of the province's public health units' sexually
transmitted infections clinics and community health centres, starting fall
2007.
    The government will spend about $55 million in 2007/08 for HIV/AIDS
related programs, services, and initiatives to help address the epidemic and
those affected and infected in Ontario. This does not include doctor billings
to OHIP or HIV/AIDS drugs.

    ANONYMOUS HIV TESTING
    ---------------------

    Purpose of Anonymous HIV Testing

    Anonymous HIV testing sites provide HIV testing without having to provide
any information that would reveal a person's identity. The sites are meant to
encourage people at high-risk of exposure to HIV to get tested. Experts say 30
per cent of people who are HIV positive are unaware of their status. The
additional 24 anonymous testing sites announced today will bring the total
number of sites in the province to 50 and will increase access to testing for
those high-risk undiagnosed individuals. The HIV test is free.
    The goals of the anonymous HIV testing program are:

    
      -  To encourage high risk individuals to be tested and promote access
         to treatment and prevention;
      -  To provide reassurance about the confidentiality of HIV testing;
      -  To provide appropriate HIV education and counselling (including
         prevention strategies and partner notification);
      -  To ensure referrals to appropriate medical and support services as
         needed;
      -  To evaluate the program in a comprehensive manner.
    

    Selection of New Anonymous Sites

    The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's AIDS Bureau established a
working group of community representatives, researchers, and ministry staff to
prepare an application and review process for the proposed anonymous HIV
testing sites. The ministry approved 24 sites for designation. Training will
be provided throughout the late summer and the new anonymous sites are
expected to open this fall.

    HIV Testing Methods

    There are two ways to get tested for HIV in Ontario - anonymous and
routine. An anonymous test substitutes a person's name for a code and no
personal information is kept about the person's identity with the request for
a test or result. Routine testing involves the collection of information about
the person's identity.
    HIV testing in Ontario is only mandatory if donating blood, semen or an
organ.
    The new anonymous testing sites, by Local Health Integration Network
(LHIN) are:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    LHIN                          NEW ANONYMOUS TESTING SITES
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Erie St. Clair        Midwifery Collective of Essex County, Leamington

    Municipality of Chatham-Kent Health and Family
    Services Public Health Unit, Chatham
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hamilton Niagara      Halton Region Health Department, Burlington
    Haldimand Brant
    Transitions for Youth, Burlington
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Toronto Central       Kensington Midwives, Toronto

    Lawrence Heights Community Health Centre, Toronto

    Parkdale Community Health Centre, Toronto

    Planned Parenthood of Toronto, Toronto

    Sages Femmes Rouge Valley Midwives, Toronto

    Women's Health in Women's Hands, Toronto
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Central               Regional Municipality of York, Public Health
    Branch, Newmarket
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Central East          Durham Region Health Department, Whitby
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Champlain             Carlington Community and Health Services, Ottawa

    Equipe de santé familiale communautaire de l'est
    d'Ottawa, Ottawa

    Ottawa Inner City Health, Ottawa

    Ottawa Valley Midwives, Carleton Place

    Pinecrest-Queensway Health and Community Services,
    Ottawa

    South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre, Ottawa

    Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, Ottawa
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    North East            Porcupine Health Unit, Timmins

    Timiskaming Health Unit, Temiskaming Shores

    North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit,
    North Bay
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    North West            Northwestern Health Unit, Kenora

    Wassay Gezhig Na Nahn Dah We Igamig, Keewatin
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The existing anonymous testing sites, by LHIN are as follows:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    LHIN                           ANONYMOUS TESTING SITES
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Erie St. Clair        Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, Windsor

    Windsor Regional Hospital, Windsor
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    South West            Elgin-St. Thomas Health Unit, St. Thomas

    London InterCommunity Health Centre, London
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Waterloo Wellington   Region of Waterloo Public Health, 99 Regina Street
    South, Waterloo

    Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit, Belwood
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hamilton              City of Hamilton Public Health and Community
    Niagara               Services Department, Hamilton
    Haldimand Brant
    Regional Niagara Public Health Department,
    Niagara Falls
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Central West          Peel Health Department, Brampton
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Toronto Central       Anishnawbe Health Toronto, Toronto

    Bay Centre for Birth Control, Women's College
    Hospital, Toronto

    Birth Control & Venereal Disease Information
    Centre, Toronto

    Central Toronto Community Health Centres Queen West
    Site, Toronto

    Centre francophone de Toronto, Toronto

    Toronto Public Health, Toronto

    Hassle Free Clinic, Toronto

    Rexdale Community Health Centre, Toronto
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    South East            Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Health
    Unit, Kingston
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Champlain             Centretown Community Health Centre, Ottawa

    Ottawa Public Health Department, Ottawa

    Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, Ottawa

    Somerset West Community Health Centre, Ottawa
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    North Simcoe
    Muskoka               Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, Barrie
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    North East            Algoma Health Unit, Sault Ste. Marie

    Sudbury and District Health Unit, Sudbury
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    North West            Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Thunder Bay
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For more information about the anonymous testing sites, their locations,
or HIV/AIDS programs in general, call the AIDS and Sexual Health InfoLine:

    For services in English and 16 additional languages call 1-800-668-2437
    (toll-free in Ontario).
    Hours of operation are:
    Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
    Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    For services in French call 1-800-267-7432 (toll free in Ontario).
    Hours of operation are:
    Monday to Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
    and 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
    Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    No weekend service

    Media Contacts:

    David Spencer                     David Jensen
    Minister's Office                 Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
    416-327-4320                      416-314-6197

    Disponible en français.

    
                             www.health.gov.on.ca
    




For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: David Spencer, Minister's
Office, (416) 327-4320; David Jensen, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care,
(416) 314-6197; Members of the general public: 1-866-532-3161

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