Press Release: Island Health Services related to the prevention, testing and treatment of blood borne diseases, harm reduction and education programs

February 16, 2015

Expanded Services to Test People for Blood Borne Diseases

VICTORIA – More prevention, testing and treatment services will be available for people throughout Island Health who are living with – or at risk for contracting – blood borne diseases such as HIV or AIDS.

“I am pleased to see that Island Health is expanding these important services,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “The importance of reaching and engaging people in care is why we have expanded the successful STOP HIV/AIDS program to communities throughout the province, with $19.9 million targeted funding annually province wide.”

Island Health’s new services are part of, and funded by, the provincial Seek and Treat for Optimal Prevention of HIV/ AIDS (STOP HIV/AIDS) initiative, which is focused on increasing the reach of HIV prevention, testing and care with the aim to provide early links to care, treatment and support, improve the health of those living with or vulnerable to HIV, and prevent further infections.

“Island Health is increasing prevention, testing and treatment programs for everyone, in alignment with the provincial STOP HIV/AIDS program and the From Hope to Health: Towards an AIDS-free Generation strategic framework,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Chief Medical Health Officer, Island Health. “We want to make testing routine, whether an individual is knowingly at risk for contracting a blood borne disease or not. While we continue to reach out to those who are most vulnerable, marginalized and at higher risk, we know that a significant proportion of new infections involve individuals from the general population who are unaware of their status. Our goal, in the course of controlling and preventing these infections, is to work with our community partners to make testing and treatment a routine procedure for everyone.”

In November 2014, Island Health issued three Requests For Proposals (RFPs) seeking community-based organizations to deliver services related to the prevention, testing and treatment of blood borne diseases, as well as to provide harm reduction and education programs. Following a rigorous evaluation process that involved Island Health’s public health staff and Medical Health Officers, Island Health is pleased to announce that the following organizations are being awarded contracts to deliver these evidence-based programs and services specified under the province’s STOP HIV/AIDS program:

  • Northern Vancouver Island: AIDS Vancouver Island
  • Central Vancouver Island: AIDS Vancouver Island, Nanaimo and Area Resource Services for Families
  • Southern Vancouver Island: AIDS Vancouver Island, Cool Aid, PEERS, SOLID, VIPWAS [Vancouver Island Persons Living with HIV/AIDS Scociety, vpwas]

In total, Island Health is distributing $650,000 in provincial STOP HIV funding for community partners for specific evidence-based interventions within Island Health’s service area, bringing the total funding for community agencies to support harm reduction, education, prevention, testing and treatment for blood borne diseases to $1.980 million next fiscal year. In addition, the Health Outreach Program in Port Alberni, Positive Wellness in Campbell River and the Beaufort Clinic in Nanaimo are recipients of STOP HIV/AIDS funding.

“The best way to ensure early diagnosis is to make testing as easy and as accessible as possible,” said Stanwick. “The approach under the STOP HIV/AIDS program takes a proven best practice methodology in the management of the threat and reality of the transmission of blood borne diseases in our communities. Modifying our programs and partnerships to implement new gains in knowledge will not always be easy. However, in our quest to do what is best for the population we serve I am confident that the success realized elsewhere will happen here. ”

South Island Media Inquiries
Sarah Plank
Media Relations Manager
Phone: 250.727.4275
Central and North Island Media Inquiries
Val WilsonManager, Regional Communications
Phone: 250.739.6303


Vancouver Island Persons Living With HIV/AIDS Society (VPWAS) 205 - 1120 Yates Street, Coast Salish Territories, Victoria, BC. V8V 3M9
Phone: 250.382.7927 | Fax: 250.382.3232 | Toll Free: 1.877.382.7927 | | | Login