Programming Connection

Pilot to Offer Anonymous, Rapid Point-of-care HIV Testing in Prisons 

Halton Region Health Department, Maplehurst Correctional Complex, Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Vanier Centre for Women
Halton Region, Ontario
2014

What is the program?

Between October 2011 and March 2012, Halton Region Health Department offered anonymous, rapid point-of-care (POC) HIV testing to inmates at Maplehurst Correctional Complex and Vanier Centre for Women, two provincial correctional facilities that share a campus in Milton, Ontario. HIV testing was coupled with testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia to enhance confidentiality for inmates accessing these services in a setting where privacy may be difficult to maintain.

The Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care’s AIDS Bureau, Halton Region Health Department, Maplehurst and Vanier collaborated on this pilot project. The objective of the pilot project was to increase access to HIV testing through anonymous, rapid POC testing services provided by a local public health unit. The pilot project included an evaluation component and was funded by the AIDS Bureau.

The pilot project demonstrated that offering anonymous, rapid HIV testing, using a POC test, to inmates in a provincial facility was not only feasible for a public health unit but also acceptable to prison healthcare providers and, critically, to inmates.

Although this pilot took place at both Maplehurst and Vanier institutions, this case study focuses on the work at Maplehurst, where most of the tests were performed. A short section at the end of the case study describes the work at Vanier.