Free HIV self-test kits made available nation-wide

Free HIV self-test kits

CATIE.ca, a resource for HIV and hepatitis C information, has launched a new initiative to distribute free HIV self-test kits across the nation. This initiative allows individuals throughout Canada to easily access and order self-test kits from the comfort of their homes, marking a significant step toward encouraging regular testing and improving health outcomes.

"Knowing your HIV status is the first step toward getting treatment that can save your life and stop transmission," emphasized Jody Jollimore, executive director of CATIE. "Whether you test positive or negative, the result will give you peace of mind and guide you to the right options to take care of your health."

The HIV self-test kits approved in Canada are highly accurate, making them a reliable tool for individuals to learn their status. Research has shown that self-testing extends testing services to communities facing barriers to accessing traditional health-care facilities. Especially in a time when health services are strained, the ease of testing at home offers a practical solution for those seeking to know their HIV status.

Candice Nelson Manager of the Kamsack Branch of the Society for the Involvement of Good Neighbours (SIGN) Positive Impact said that Positive Impact does hand out HIV self-testing kits. The funding for the program comes from the Sask Health Authority (SHA).

Nelson added, “I usually use their (SHA) stock, but there were supply issues last summer, so I received a small stock from CATIE to hand out at the HIV testing day events around the area.”

HIV, if left untreated, poses a serious health risk. Fortunately, timely diagnosis and treatment significantly improve outcomes. A person living with HIV on effective treatment also cannot transmit the virus to their sexual partners, highlighting the importance of early detection.

"One out of 10 HIV-positive Canadians still do not know they are living with the virus," said Jollimore. "We need to make testing as simple and convenient as possible, and self-testing is part of that effort."

CATIE's self-testing initiative is part of the Government of Canada's $8-million investment in the procurement and distribution of HIV self-test kits throughout the nation. The project aims to distribute the kits to individuals and communities most affected by HIV, aligning with the goal to eliminate HIV as a public health threat by 2030.

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