Getakit by Street Health, reducing barriers to safe, reliable HIV testing for vulnerable populations

May 26, 2022

 

On November 3, 2020, Health Canada approved Canada’s first-ever HIV self-test, a considerable win for HIV advocates nationwide who believe that HIV self-testing is an important tool for people to find out their status in a discreet and timely manner.

Getakit first launched in Ottawa on July 20, 2020, to study the feasibility of a mail-out HIV self-testing program and is co-led by the University of Ottawa and the Ontario HIV Treatment Network.

The program uses the Health Canada approved bioLytical INSTI HIV self-test. The INSTI® HIV Self-Test is the only self-test for HIV now licensed in Canada, it takes only one minute to produce highly accurate results.

Street Health partnered with GetaKit in the fall of 2021 with the aim of increasing HIV testing, the frequency of testing, the number of people who know their status, and the number of people linked to treatment and care, all of which contribute to decreasing HIV transmission. Having accessible and lower barrier HIV tests are particularly important to reduce infection rates in key population groups such as people who use substances and/or inject drugs.


#GetaKit
, by Street Health, is designed to make HIV self-testing available for Toronto residents who are:

16 years or older
HIV negative, or unsure of your status
Not enrolled in an HIV vaccine trial
Not diagnosed with a bleeding disorder

When you order your HIV self-test kit you will receive a package that includes:

  • 1 HIV self-test device which comes with
    • Instructions on how to use the kit
    • 3 bottles of labelled solutions
    • 1 lancet
    • 1 test device
    • 1 bandage
  • Condoms
  • Lube
  • Additional resource documents

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All this comes in a compact, discrete package that folds out into a workstation to organize all the pieces of the HIV self-test. The package also includes contact details for local services in case clients need extra support.

Once the results have been returned to the client, a Registered Nurse from Street Health will follow up with next steps. If the result is negative, staff may reach out to provide information about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a medicine people at risk for HIV take to prevent getting HIV from sex or injection drug use.

This program employs a status-neutral approach to HIV care which means that all people, regardless of HIV status, are treated in the same way. It all starts with an HIV test. Any result, positive or negative, kicks off further engagement with the healthcare system, all in support of the final goal, to live in a world where HIV is neither acquired nor passed.