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GetaTest: Rapid HIV Testing in Ottawa and Toronto Pharmacies

BACKGROUND

14% of Ontarians living with HIV are likely unaware of their status.1 We need innovative testing approaches to increase testing rates and reach undiagnosed HIV-positive Ontarians.

The OHTN partnered with The Village Pharmacy in Toronto and Shoppers Drug Mart (Gladstone and Bank location) in Ottawa to deliver free, rapid, HIV point-of-care testing in pharmacies through the GetaTest program.

GetaTest launched in Toronto in November 2019, and in Ottawa in January 2020.

HOW MANY PEOPLE DID WE TEST?

Client Demographics

The majority of service users identified as white, male, and between the ages of 20-29. Men who have sex with men (MSM) made up the highest percentage of testing recipients across almost all age groups.

Both sites were equally effective at reaching women*2. Notably, there was a high level of testing done by heterosexual men and women.

Both Toronto and Ottawa testing sites were effective at reaching women*. The Toronto site reached a greater percentage of service users who identified as MSM or who were born in an HIV-endemic country3, while the Ottawa site reached a higher percentage of heterosexual men.

Based on requisition data where sexual orientation and gender were known (n=604), 54.3% (n=328) of clients self-identified as MSM; 18.7% (n=113) identified as women; 10.3% (n=62) identified as Black; 0.17% (n=1) identified as Indigenous; and 0.33% (n=2) identified as a person who uses injection drugs (PWID). These categories are not mutually exclusive.

2 Women* includes cisgender and transgender women.
3 The Public Health Agency of Canada defines countries where HIV is endemic as those countries where the prevalence of HIV among adults (age 15-49 years) is 1.0% or greater and one of the following: 50% or more of HIV cases are attributed to heterosexual transmission; a male to female ratio of 2:1 or less among prevalent infections; or HIV prevalence greater than or equal to 2% among women receiving prenatal care. Available from: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/
publications/diseases-conditions/summary-estimates-hiv-incidence-prevalence-canadas-progress-90-90-90.htm

TESTING HISTORY

This program was fairly effective at reaching first-time testers, with 21.2% of women, 5.2% of MSM, and 15.3% of non-MSM men reporting never having tested for HIV.

THE EXPERIENCE OF TESTING

Service users reported high satisfaction with the experience of pharmacy point-of-care testing. Service users reported very high satisfaction with the time it took to get tested, and the complete testing experience. 100% of the clients perceived HIV testing to be important.

What clients said

If you found this report interesting, and would like to further explore other Ontario specific resources across the HIV care continuum, check out the following websites: GetaKit HIV self testing ( www.getakit.ca), The Ontario HIV Epidemiology and Surveillance Initiative (www.ohesi.ca), and Ontario PrEP resources (www.ontarioprep.ca).