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Free HIV tests to be offered at two Vancouver pharmacies

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Two Vancouver pharmacies will soon offer customers free HIV tests that will provide results on the spot in less than five minutes.

Pharmacists at the Medicine Shoppe drugstores have been trained by HIV nurses from Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care to provide testing as part of a year-long pilot project.

Medical health officer Dr. Reka Gustafson says offering HIV testing at locations such as a pharmacy helps reduce stigma around testing and makes it more acceptable to people.

The pilot project will determine whether HIV testing in pharmacies can complement existing programs at community testing sites, hospitals, walk-in clinics and through family physicians.

The Medicine Shoppes _ located at 2030 Kingsway Ave. and 6180 Fraser St. _ are near a Pacific Medical Walk-in Clinic, where doctors will provide support to patients and link them to treatment if required.

An HIV-positive person taking prescribed medication is up to 96 per cent less likely to transmit the infection to others, but an estimated 3,500 people in BC are infected with the virus and don’t know it.