A new sexual health centre wants to make HIV testing hassle-free for gay men in Vancouver.
The Health Initiative for Men (HIM) Sexual Health Centre offers rapid HIV testing, the results and, if necessary, post-test counselling all in the same visit.
The process is less invasive and a lot more convenient than standard testing, says the clinic’s coordinator Hans Bosgoed.
“It’s done with a little finger poke so you don’t need to draw blood. You have the results in one minute.”
Because testing is offered for free and doesn’t require an appointment, the clinic is also able to reach a larger demographic. “There’s only one other health centre offering rapid testing but it’s only for their own clients. So it [wasn’t] available for everyone and there’s a big demand for this type of rapid test,” Bosgoed says.
Getting tested for HIV is as crucial now as it was during the 1980s when the virus first gained recognition as a threat to human health. According to HIM’s website, gay men comprised 62 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in Vancouver in 2008. But 31 percent of gay men under the age of 30 have never been tested.
Bosgoed says many gay men are afraid to be tested, especially when they have to wait days or weeks for the results. Rapid testing helps to alleviate this fear.
“The positive effect of it is you know the results right away and you don’t need a blood sample drawn,” he says.
For more details check out the Health Initiative for Men (HIM) on Facebook or visit their website at www.checkhimout.ca.