AIDS New Brunswick is working with University of New Brunswick nursing students to make testing more accessible. The testing began last Wednesday and is available bi-weekly at 65 Brunswick St. between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
“Were hoping to make testing available to people who are finding it difficult,” said Matt Smith, prevention programs manager at AIDS NB. “Whether that be youth or adults, but we do know youth between the ages of 18 and 24 are the rising rates of infection.”
Smith said chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are on the rise in the province. Those sexually transmitted diseases are primarily affecting young adults and women. Smith also said anyone over the age of 19 is not eligible to receive testing for sexual transmitted infections at a provincially run sexual health center.
“Our goal is to provide testing to anyone who needs it,” said Smith.
Smith said 71,000 people in Canada are living with HIV and 25 per cent of those people are unaware they have the disease. HIV is spread primarily spread through unprotected sex and intravenous and inhalation drug use. Smith said part of the problem is just making people aware they have it, so they can treat it.
“It’s hard opening programs like this because there’s a lot of stigma,” said Smith.
The first series of testing began last week. The centre had a few people come in but hope for more.
Smith said AIDS NB is looking to partner with dating and hookup apps like Tinder, Grinder, Plenty of Fish and Manhunt to spread information about safe sex. He hopes to have that program up within a year to help slow the spread of HIV and other STIs.
In the meantime, Smith said young people should be practicing safe sex and getting tested.
“Love yourself. Come down and get tested. Keep yourself safe and your partner safe; use protection.”