HIV testing can be intimidating for clients. They may fear: the process of being tested; waiting and worrying about the result; and, of course, the test result itself. As healthcare providers, we often look for ways to ease these fears in our clients and when it comes to HIV testing. Point of care (POC) HIV testing is one solution.
Sometimes called “rapid” HIV tests, POC HIV tests are HIV antibody screening tests which can be performed on-site while the client waits, and provide results within minutes. If negative, the HIV test result is final but if the POC HIV screening test is a reactive or “preliminary positive” this result needs to be confirmed through standard testing.
The point of care HIV test can be used almost anywhere a flat surface exists and where client confidentiality can be protected including clinics, physician offices, emergency rooms and outreach settings. The test is a great tool for the client who may not be able or willing to return for their test result or for those who may not be able to make it to the lab to have their blood drawn. It can even be helpful for clients whose care could be enhanced if they receive their HIV test result right away (e.g. women in labour).
POC HIV testing is: favoured by many clients and health care providers; involves taking a small sample of blood from a finger poke; and is easy to use and to read. Dozens of sites in BC are using the test kits every day and clients are requesting the POC test all over the province.
If POC HIV testing sounds like something you would like to have available for your clients, the BCCDC provincial POC HIV testing program provides FREE point of care test kits, training, and support to testing sites, working in collaboration with health regions. We are always eager to work with new sites to offer POC HIV testing and can advise you what you will need to start POC HIV testing.
For further information, please see the provincial Point of Care HIV Test Guidelines for Health Care Settings. If you have any questions about the point of care HIV test, training, or the provincial program please do not hesitate to contact us (by email to Dr. Sarah Fielden, Provincial POC HIV Testing Manager, email@example.com)