Dr. Steven Sayers | DX Medical Centre, Milbourne
7629 38 Ave
Edmonton AB T6K 3Y7
New HIV/STI Afterhours Testing
Walk-in or call in advance to book an appointment
Mondays & Wednesdays 5pm-7pm
Dr. Steven Sayers with DX Medical Centre is starting a new afterhours HIV/STI testing clinic.
For those who don’t know you or haven’t been to your clinic, tell us a little about you.
I have been a physician for 20 years, having moved to Canada from Edinburgh four years ago. I have a firm belief that everyone should be able to experience positive sexual health and wellbeing.
We’re not aware of this having been done before. What drew you to offering an afterhours HIV/STI testing clinic?
Offering this option was really a response to increase demand. And we also know about the long wait times individuals experience at other clinics such as the Edmonton STI Clinic downtown.
Where are you located and during which hours does your walk-in HIV/STI testing clinic operate? Can people make an appointment or is it drop-in only? Is it exclusively for LGBTQ individuals or the general population?
My practice is at Dx Medical Centres Milbourne. It is located at 7629 38 Avenue in Edmonton. Walk in HIV/STI testing hours are Monday and Wednesday from 5pm to 7pm. Patients are welcome to call the clinic in advance during regular hours (Monday through Thursday between 10am-5pm) to book an appointment. The clinic is for everyone, not exclusively for LGBTQ individuals.
What testing do you offer onsite?
We offer any testing that Alberta Health Services offers – blood, urine, and vaginal/rectal/throat swabs.
INSTI HIV kits are also available onsite for rapid HIV testing. However, this is something that Alberta Health will not cover.
What testing will people need to get performed elsewhere?
Urine and blood tests will be done at Dynalife labs (using a requisition obtained during your visit to the testing clinic). All swabs and the INSTI HIV kit can be done on site.
Do people need to have a personal healthcare number/Alberta health care card in order to get tested?
Yes and no. For the people who do have Alberta Health Insurance, their visits are covered under Alberta Health unless their card is not eligible. For those who are out of province, we are still able to see you under the reciprocal health program and bill your province; the only exception is Quebec residents. For anyone who is from out of the country, there will be a charge for the visit.
If someone is tested through your clinic and comes back positive for an STI like syphilis, chlamydia, or gonorrhea, will they be notified by you or by a partner notification nurse through the STI program? Are they able to get treated by you or would they have to go to the STI clinic?
Any positive results obtained from testing ordered through the clinic will be notified by Dx Medical Centres directly. And yes, they are welcome to come to my practice and be treated as well.
I understand that you will be charging for the rapid HIV testing. Can you tell us how much and why you have to charge for that?
Yes. Unfortunately, the INSTI HIV kit is not covered by Alberta Health. This means that we will have to charge $60 for the kit. I would like to reiterate though that the charge is for the kit and not for the services we provide.
That price seems inaccessible for many people who might be most vulnerable to HIV infection. Obviously, there’s not much you can do about that as a lone physician. But what are some steps you feel need to be taken to ensure that rapid HIV testing becomes more accessible for people regardless of how much money they’ve got in their bank account?
People and organizations would need to lobby Alberta Health to cover the costs of the kits and make them available. However, regardless of the result of the INSTI HIV kit, lab follow up is advised. And they would likely argue that since standard HIV confirmatory HIV testing is required (and available to everyone) there is no need to fund this additional testing option.
We hear stories about people going to their primary care provider or family doctor requesting an HIV or STI test and instead being sent to the STI Clinic. What do you think is at the root of the reticence of some primary care providers to provide HIV and STI testing services or to sexual health care in general?
I think it primarily comes down to some physicians having less experience dealing with STI screening and treatment.
One of the most common requests we get is for LGBTQ friendly family doctors. As an openly gay physician yourself, what do you think are some of the reasons behind so many community members having trouble finding LGBTQ friendly and knowledgeable primary healthcare providers? And what are some steps that need to be taken in order to get to a place where those barriers are less prevalent?
We need to build the knowledge and cultural competency of physicians so that they are able to provide LGBTQ inclusive care. There are different ways of going about that but increasing training at University and medical school would certainly help.