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Online testing service for sexually-transmitted infections comes to Vancouver Island

February 22, 2016


VICTORIA
– People living in Cowichan, Langford, and Victoria will now be able to access sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV testing without having to visit a doctor or nurse in person.

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), in collaboration with Island Health, and LifeLabs, will be expanding the pilot program of GetCheckedOnline, the first online service in Canada offering easy, confidential testing for STIs, HIV and hepatitis C. It’s a confidential, convenient alternative for those who would like to test more often or who find it difficult to visit a clinic for testing.  The expansion will also occur in the communities of Kamloops and Nelson in collaboration with Interior Health.

The communities were chosen to include both rural and urban pilot sites for the expansion. Clients can visit the website (GetCheckedOnline.com), create an account, answer a sexual history questionnaire and print a laboratory requisition for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV and (if needed) hepatitis C testing. Users then go to a participating LifeLabs location in their community to give specimens, and are notified by email when their results are ready. If all results are negative, they can be viewed online. Clients with positive or inconclusive results will be contacted by a BCCDC nurse to arrange follow-up and appropriate treatment. Users need a code to access testing through GetCheckedOnline; codes will be available through program promotion materials in Island Health. 

The service was developed based on feedback from potential users and health-care professionals, and has undergone privacy and security reviews to safeguard a patient’s right to confidentiality. It is an extension of BCCDC STI clinical services, which ensures that appropriate tests are done and that patients receive local 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.

GetCheckedOnline has been available in Vancouver for the past 16 months, with over 400 clients accessing the service. If the pilot in these five additional communities shows similar success, the service may be expanded to other communities in BC in the future.

Quotes:

Hon. Terry Lake, Minister of Health

“A person can have an STI without knowing because often there are no signs or symptoms. So if you are sexually active, getting tested for sexually transmitted infections is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. GetCheckedOnline is a free and private way for British Columbians to get tested, and now more communities will be reached by this service.”

Carl Roy, President & Chief Executive Officer, Provincial Health Services Authority

“The Provincial Health Services Authority is committed to innovative, province-wide solutions to achieving better health. This collaborated expansion of GetCheckedOnline is helping improve access to important STI testing and provides an alternative method to deliver quality health services to more British Columbians.”

Dr. Dee Hoyano, Medical Health Officer, Island Health

“We’re pleased to be bringing this service to the Island in partnership with BCCDC and LifeLabs. The only way to know if you have an STI is to get tested. Going online will make STI testing more accessible and help people get linked to treatment and support. It’s also a good way to know more about your health status and take care of your partners.”

Maja Karlsson, HIV and Health Outreach Manager, Interior Health

“We know there are people who are reluctant to visit a clinic or physician’s office to get tested.  This program removes barriers and make it easier and more convenient. We hope that this new service will encourage more people to get tested and get tested more often. Finding out if you have an STI is a critical step in getting medical care and controlling the spread of infections to others.”     

Sue Paish, President & Chief Executive Officer, LifeLabs

“LifeLabs is honoured to support the work of the BC Centre for Disease Control and participating health authorities in bringing GetCheckedOnline to more British Columbians. GetCheckedOnline allows those who want and need STI testing to get tested when and how it works for them. This highly personal access is key to increasing the chance that people will get tested: a critical step in managing and improving their health.”

Learn more:

www.GetCheckedOnline.com
www.SmartSexResource.com 

The BC Centre for Disease Control, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides provincial and national leadership in public health through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and consultation services. The Centre provides both direct diagnostic and treatment services for people with diseases of public health importance and analytical and policy support to all levels of government and health authorities.

Media Contacts:

Jen Parisi 
Communications Advisor, Population & Public Health 
Island Health
Jen.Parisi@Viha.ca
250-519-5300 (12650)

Bernelle Yan
Communications Officer
Provincial Health Services Authority
Bernelle.yan@phsa.ca
604-707-2412 or pager: 604-871-5699

Lesley Coates
Public Health Communications Officer
Interior Health
250-870-4689