Residents of Kimberley now have easier access to testing for sexually-transmitted infections and blood borne infections (STBBI) through BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC) GetCheckedOnline program.
Kimberley is one of three communities in the Interior to receive the service in the past three years. Nelson and Kamloops launched the GetCheckedOnline program in 2016.
IH says that evaluations in these communities show that the program reduces barriers to testing, including individuals who are first-time testers and those who might be at higher risk of infection.
“With the success of the program in Kamloops and Nelson, we anticipate similar uptake in Kimberley,” said Maja Karlsson, Director Sexual Health and Harm Reduction, Interior Health. “Having this free and convenient service helps to normalize testing, which in turn means more people are empowered to take control of their sexual health.”
The service offers confidential testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis and hepatitis C without the need to see a health-care provider in person.
In order to get tested, the first step is to create an online account through IH’s online portal followed by filling out a lab form and completing a short assesment. Participants can then bring in their lab form to the local LifeLabs location where they submit samples for testing.
When results are ready, usually within seven to 12 days, an email will be sent out to the recipient and they can sign back in online to their GetCheckedOnline account to view the results. A nurse will also be in contact if any follow-up is required including possible treatment or further testing.
Stephanie, a client of the GetCheckedOnline in the Interior Health region, is a strong advocate for the service, according to a press release from IH.
“If you believe you currently have an infection, you definitely should go to a health-care professional,” said Stephanie in the release. “But if you want to keep track of your sexual health, GetCheckedOnline is like a one-stop shop—you can provide all your urine, blood, and swab samples at LifeLabs—then get your results online.”
She adds that if someone is tested at a clinic and doesn’t hear back, then they can assume that the test was negative. However, having a definitive negative result arrive in your inbox through GetCheckedOnline better alleviates people’s anxiety.
Other individuals, in particular sex workers or gender diverse individuals, see GetCheckedOnline as a good option if they feel shame around testing or fear of judgement.
“For some people, they feel safer being honest in their answers about their sexual activity,” said Stephanie. “They have more anonymity.”
“It is important to us that British Columbians have discreet, accessible testing when they need it so they can take care of themselves and their partners,” said Mark Gilbert, Medical Director, Clinical Prevention Services, BCCDC. “We are proud to work with our Interior Health partners to launch GetCheckedOnline in Kimberley, building off the success we have had in the communities of Kamloops and Nelson.”