12/13/2012 04:34 EST | Updated 02/12/2013 05:12 EST

Pilot project at Vancouver hospitals finds 30 HIV patients upon admission

VANCOUVER - A pilot project at Vancouver hospitals that tests patients for HIV on admission has found more than 30 people with the disease in its first year.

Under the program launched in October of 2011, four area hospitals began offering HIV tests to patients when other blood tests are ordered.

Until the project was launched, only those believed to have a high risk for HIV, such as intravenous drug users, were offered the test.

Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, says the patients they diagnosed are women and men from a range of communities, and reinforces the point that all adults should have an HIV test as part of routine health care.

Dr. Réka Gustafson, Director of Communicable Disease Control for Vancouver Coastal Health, says early treatment is crucial for HIV patients, saying the treatment prolongs and improves people’s lives and dramatically reduces the chances of their transmitting the disease to others.

The provincial government recently announced it will be expanding the pilot project to the rest of the province next year as part of a plan called STOP HIV/AIDS.