An important distinction is that a formal medical screen looks to identify risky behaviors and test accordingly (not make assumptions about a person’s risk based on lifestyle or demographic). A person who injects a substance daily and is scrupulous in their use of sterile equipment and their technique need not undergo 3 monthly blood tests for BBV yet someone who has shared injecting equipment once with someone who’s BBV status is unknown would be wise to consider getting tested.
It’s a myth that all young people in AOD services should be tested for BBV. Unnecessary blood testing can cause unnecessary anxiety and waste time and monetary resources that could be spent on an issue of real concern for that young person.
Conversely, a negative blood test result can reassure a young person that they are ’all clean!’ and can create space for a positive dialogue about self-care and taking control of their body and their health.
Before undertaking any BBV testing, ask a young person what they would do if they got a positive result. If a young person is already experiencing considerable life stress or suicidal ideation consider delaying screening. The benefit of a timely diagnosis is not so great that a young person should be put at risk of acting on suicidal intent.