HIV testing offered during AIDS Awareness Week

Know Your Status testing campaign will run from Nov. 25 to 29 during Canada’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Week.

Know Your Status testing campaign will run from Nov. 25 to 29 during Canada’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Week.

“Of the 71,000 people who are living with HIV in Canada, about 25 per cent of them don’t know,” Jennifer Vandershaeghe, executive director of Central Alberta AIDS Network Society, said on Monday.

“The majority of HIV infections are being transmitted by people who do not know their status. So we really want people to know their status.”

Testing is free and confidential, and also available for other sexually transmitted diseases or blood-borne infections. Red Deer Primary Care Network Street Clinic, Alberta Health Services 49th Street Community Health Centre and CAANS partnered to organize the campaign.

Testing for the campaign will be available at the street clinic from Nov. 26 to 28, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Testing at the Teen and Young Adult Sexual Health Clinic at 49th Street Community Health Centre will be available during regular business hours — Monday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The office is closed for lunch from noon to 1 p.m.

CAANS staff will be available during the campaign to provide support and information to clients.

Free and confidential testing is always available through family doctors, and at the street clinic and sexual health clinic.

Vandershaeghe said it’s important for people to get tested even if they aren’t in a high-risk group.

“People don’t necessarily tell doctors everything about their personal lives. Doctors aren’t necessarily ready to hear or have the time to build that relationship where you feel comfortable about telling everything that you have done.

“It’s important for people to take that power for themselves and say, ‘No, I want to be tested. I want to know my status.’ ”

In Alberta Health Services Central Zone, 11 people tested positive for HIV in 2012, 13 tested positive in 2011 and 12 in 2010.

Across the province, 241 people tested positive in 2012, 225 tested positive in 2011, and 204 in 2010.