Home HIV tests available in Sudbury

A research study in Greater Sudbury allows people to test themselves for HIV.

The idea behind the initiative is that some people want to get tested for HIV, but don’t want to go to their family doctor.

“Some people might be reluctant to connect to care in those ways because there is a lot of stigma attached with HIV,” said Angél Riess, education and communications coordinator with Réseau Access Network.

"So one of the ways we hope to alleviate that is by providing the ability to order the test and test at home."

The non-profit, community-based charitable organization is a pickup location for 'I’m Ready,' a major HIV self-testing research program. It was launched by REACH Nexus, the same team that got Canada’s first HIV self-test approved last November.

Participants in the study can pick up the test at Réseau Access Network or have it shipped right to their door.

'I'm Ready to Know'

Dubbed 'I’m Ready to Know,' officials behind the study will be distributing 50,000 free self-testing kits across Canada, while at the same time asking questions from the people who will use them. It's all done through an innovative mobile app, with the goal of improving HIV testing and care.

“I’m Ready has the potential to be a game-changer for ending the HIV epidemic in Canada and have real impacts here locally in the Sudbury/Manitoulin area, too" said Riess.

"The agency was eager to partner with this program as it will offer a new option for individuals seeking access to testing.”

She said there are approximately 14,000 undiagnosed individuals living with HIV in the country.

“It’s a very timely thing for us to try to get people diagnosed so we can connect everyone to care and hopefully end HIV by 2030,” Riess said.

Kathy Savage often accesses services at Réseau Access Network. She was diagnosed with HIV and Hepatitis C in 2013.

Through years of treatment, she has been able to become non-transmittable. She recommends everyone access the free tests.

“I would say do it," Savage said. "Because after you do, if it's negative, wow, that’s awesome, and if it's positive. at least you know and you can get on some medication and take control of it because it will kill you eventually if you don’t.”

Officials said those who participate in the study will get three tests, which will allow them to share with their partner or even friends who want to get tested.

You can learn more about the study at www.readytoknow.ca, and about the agency’s work at www.reseauaccessnetwork.com.