Reaching Underserved Populations: Leveraging Point-of-Care Tests for Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infections to Explore New Program Options in Canada
Point-of-care testing (POCT) is one solution for rethinking testing and screening strategies. POCT offers the flexibility to perform medical diagnostic testing outside the clinical laboratory in close proximity to where the patient is receiving care. It can be performed in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, pharmacies, ambulances, nursing and long-term care facilities, or the patient’s residence, bringing diagnostics closer to people, especially to populations who are not currently using health services for many different reasons including, stigma, discrimination, criminalization, and geographic isolation.
While there is interest in expanding POCT in Canada, translating research and evidence into POCT policies and programs remains a challenge. To support national efforts to improve sexually transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBIs) screening and support awareness building for equitable access to and uptake of new diagnostic technologies for STBBIs, the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCCID) commissioned this evidence review on POCT as it relates to the Canadian context. This review is the first of several projects NCCID is conducting, and is intended to summarize POC technologies and devices that are currently used, on the market, approved or available in Canada, or in the pipeline.