Director of AIDS/HIV centre in PEI calls for anonymous testing system

Staff ~ Transcontinental Media
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CHARLOTTETOWN - A Prince Edward Island AIDS advocacy group says anonymous testing for HIV/AIDS is urgently needed on the Island.
Mark Hanlon, the executive director of AIDS P.E.I., says he plans to push government for the testing.
He says Prince Edward Island is currently the only province that doesn't have anonymous testing, and the result is that some people decide not to get tested.
Islanders wanting to be tested for HIV/AIDS do so through their doctor, and their name is on the request.
Hanlon says that with anonymous testing, a subject doesn't provide their name or other personal information. Only the person tested knows they were tested and is privy to their results.
Hanlon says AIDS P.E.I. could potentially be a test site for such a system.
''They could go in on a Monday, get tested, and on Friday, they just come in, give a number. We have the numbers for the tests and they get the test results back,'' he added.
''If they want to come back and talk to us about a positive result or they want to talk about a negative result and how they can avoid problems then we can do that.''
But providing anonymous testing would require government's help, he added.
''We need somebody on site. It doesn't mean they have to give us any money. They could provide a nurse,'' said Hanlon.
''One-day-a-week testing and having the nurse come back later in the week to distribute the results would be great. That way there's no face-to-face contact with other health professionals besides that nurse.''
The province currently isn't looking at introducing anonymous testing.
''We have not had a request from anyone to do it anonymously or a proposal from anybody who would do it. We would take it on and look at it if a request came,'' said Dr. Lamont Sweet, deputy chief health officer.
''It does require that a physician be responsible for requesting the test. So, if a physician wanted to apply to do that anywhere, then we would have to look at that.''

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, CHARLOTTETOWN

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