Turning Point Society will provide free HIV self-test kits to Red Deerians this fall.
This is being done through the Community-Based Research Centre’s Test Now Community Distribution Project, which is a pilot program aiming to evaluate the efficacy and uptake of new HIV testing technologies.
The project will serve as an opportunity to provide gay, bisexual, trans, Two-Spirit and queer (GBT2Q) men and non-binary people with a low-barrier option for their HIV testing needs, Turning Point said in a release Friday.
“Considering this population makes up more than 50 per cent of new HIV infections reported in Canada each year, access to these take-home test kits is going to be a game-changer for our clients and the community,” said Mitchell Danser, team lead of Turning Point’s new Central Alberta Men’s Outreach program.
There is a wide range of factors that create barriers to HIV testing for this population in central Alberta, Danser said, including external and internalized stigma surrounding sexual health and identity, limited mobility and proximity to testing facilities, extended wait periods for testing results, and a lack of individual and societal education.
“These kits provide greater testing anonymity and substantially improve accessibility for those facing these and other barriers,” said Danser.
“I’m confident we’ll see an uptake in testing now that we’re able to distribute these take-home kits.”
The INSTI HIV Self-Test kit is a rapid, single-use device that detects HIV antibodies in minutes, using a drop of blood.
Once a test is completed, regardless of the result, participants can contact Turning Point for information, support and referrals.
The Community-Based Research Centre promotes the health of GBT2Q individuals through research and intervention development.
Estimates suggest that there are over 8,000 people living with HIV in Canada who are not aware of their status – 13 per cent of people living with HIV – and don’t have access to treatment, according to Turning Point.
Those interested in receiving a free HIV self-test kit while quantities last are encouraged to drop by Turning Point’s office or contact their Central Alberta Men’s Outreach worker directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.