Tuesday, April 7, 2015
BCCDC Launches New Website
Internet-based service makes it easier to test for STIs, HIV and Hep C
Released by the BC Centre for Disease Control
he BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) 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 clinic 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.
“By reducing barriers to accessing needed health care, we’re focused on providing innovations for British Columbians that are patient-centered and follow the priorities for our health system. Offering this service online reduces stigma and privacy concerns for peace of mind," said Health Minister Terry Lake.
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.
“The need to visit a clinic in person can be a barrier that prevents some people from finding out if they have a sexually transmitted infection. GetCheckedOnline is an innovative, patient-centred service that will encourage people to get tested so they can access the treatment they need," said Dr. Perry Kendall, Provincial Health Officer.
Through GetCheckedOnline, people without symptoms who don’t need to see a health care 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.
“Finding out if you have an STI is a critical step in controlling the spread of infections and getting medical care. GetCheckedOnline will make it more convenient for people to get tested and reduce barriers to accessing appropriate sexual health care,” said Dr. Mark Tyndall, Executive Medical Officer, BC Centre for Disease Control.
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 SmartSexResource.com, which offers comprehensive sexual health information and the ability to submit questions to or chat with an STI nurse online.
"The Just Makes Sense campaign appeals to gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men who are looking for more options for accessing STI testing. GetCheckedOnline will be a welcome addition to these men, especially those who get tested regularly and those who avoid testing due to concerns about privacy," said Greg Oudman, Executive Director, Health Initiative for Men.
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 health care 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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