New service provides easier testing of STIs

VANCOUVER – BC Centre for Disease Control has gone live with GetCheckedOnline, the first online service in Canada offering easy, convenient testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, and Hepatitis C.

The new service, which is starting as a pilot project in Vancouver, allows for confidential access to STI and HIV testing without having to visit a doctor in person. By making it easier and more convenient to get tested, the program is aimed at people who would like to test more often or who find it difficult to come into a clinic for testing.

For the pilot phase of the program, BCCDC has partnered with the Health Initiative for Men (HIM) to promote GetCheckedOnline to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in Vancouver. The pilot is focusing on this population as it represents over half of all new HIV infections each year, and experiences higher STI rates. Eligible participants will be given access by following the instructions on the Just Makes Sense campaign website.

Through GetCheckedOnline, people without symptoms who don’t need to see a healthcare provider can visit the website to create an account, answer some sexual history questions and print a laboratory requisition for Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV and (in some cases) hepatitis C testing.

Users then go to select LifeLabs locations in Vancouver to have their specimens collected, and are notified by email when their results are ready. If all results are negative, users can view their results online. Users with positive results will be contacted by BCCDC nurses to arrange appropriate treatment and follow-up.

The service was developed based on feedback from potential users and clinicians, and has undergone rigorous privacy testing to ensure that patient confidentiality is protected. It is an extension of BCCDC STI clinic services which ensures that the appropriate tests are done and that patients receive treatment and follow-up.

GetCheckedOnline users will also be directed to BCCDC’s provincial sexual health website, which offers comprehensive sexual health information and the ability to submit questions to or chat with an STI nurse online.

As the first STI and HIV testing program of its kind in Canada, the GetCheckedOnline pilot phase is being comprehensively evaluated to see who uses the service and the impact it has on the healthcare system. These results will help to inform the planning currently underway for expansion of GetCheckedOnline to other regions of the province.

This pilot is well aligned with the Seek and Treat for Optimal Prevention of HIV/AIDS (STOP HIV/AIDS) program in that it aims to reach and engage people who are not well engaged in testing for HIV and other STIs.

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Written by Editor

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