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New study will see Nova Scotia pharmacies test for HIV


Eric Smith remembers when he tested positive for HIV in 1986. He said it was a process that ostracized people.

“There was a master list and your name actually went on a list of the Department of Health. There was always a record and that’s what scared a lot people off,” said Smith.

Now, a new process will be introduced which will make testing for sexually transmitted and blood borne illnesses like Hepatitis C and syphilis easier.

It’s a national program that will be seen in certain provinces across Canada, including Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

“Pharmacies that were interested that were in the areas that the project was looking at were able to apply directly to the research team and go through the selection process,” said Alison Bodnar, CEO of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia.

Ten pharmacies will be participating in the study. The goal is to make health care more accessible.

“We know from our INR program that patients like having access close to home, where it’s convenient, and in a private confidential area,” said Bodnar.

According to Health and Social Services, one in five people living with HIV in Canada do not know it. If left untreated, HIV leads to AIDS.

While there is no cure to HIV, treatment allows people to continue living a healthy life.

“People don’t even know they have this, which allows the spreading to happen even further. By giving people a place to come and be tested in a way that’s comfortable for them, we’re hoping that will contribute to better health,” said Bodnar.

In October, Nova Scotia Health reported an increase in people newly diagnosed with HIV in the province and emphasized the importance of getting tested to know their status and make informed decisions about their health accordingly.

Smith said having pharmacies test for HIV is a step forward. He hopes to one day see testing in even more pharmacies across Nova Scotia. Top Stories

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