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ON-SITE HIV, AIDS TESTING EVENT COMING TO GRANDE PRAIRIE


 

Know your status. That’s the theme of this year’s Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in Grande Prairie. As part of that week, the Northern Indigenous Health Alliance will be holding on-site AIDS testing next Monday.

Grande Prairie Friendship Centre Cultural Navigator Natascha Okimaw says the last Canadian stats she has from 2015/2016, shows that there has been a 29 per cent increase in the number of cases of HIV and AIDS in the Indigenous community.

“We are one of the smallest populations in Canada but yet we are overrepresented when it comes to the amount of cases of infections.”

AIDS is an advanced form of HIV which is a virus that attacks cells in the immune system. If left untreated it can weaken the immune system so much it is no longer able to defend itself. HIV can be contracted through things like unsafe sex and sharing needles.

While the event is targeted towards the Indigenous community, Okimaw says everyone can and should get tested.

“Part of the idea is to help remove the stigma and discrimination that prohibits access to culturally safe treatments and support. Indigenous people are labelled at risk but being Indigenous is not a risk factor. Everyone’s at risk of contracting HIV.”

Along with the on-site testing done from 10 to 3, there will also be a presentation and a full dinner starting at 4. The full event will be held at the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre on December 3rd.

Author: EMMA MASON

Source: https://www.mygrandeprairienow.com/47586/on-site-hiv-aids-testing-event-coming-to-grande-prairie/

World Aids Day: Eradicating the stigma of HIV in Uzbekistan

In May 2017, Azima became the first person in Uzbekistan’s history to publicly come out as HIV-positive.

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World Aids Day: Eradicating the stigma of HIV in Uzbekistan
Azima found out she was HIV-positive at the age of 11 [Photo credit: UNICEF]

Tashkent, Uzbekistan – Azima stood in front of a wooden board at a charity fair in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital, tellingly named the Time of Miracles. The 16-year-old, dark-haired girl with azure blue eyes looked lost and uneasy. She knew that the event would change her life forever.

Amid dozens of passers-by, Azima anxiously awaited reactions to the statement she had just made. The piece of paper hanging behind her read: “I’m HIV-positive. Hug me.”

In May 2017, Azima became the first person in Uzbekistan’s history to publicly come out as HIV-positive. On World’s AIDS day on December 1 that year, she repeated her statement on national TV.

In Uzbekistan, until recently one of the world’s most isolated country’s, HIV carries a huge social stigma. An HIV outbreak that began in the early 2000s was never publicly discussed.

There is no available data on the number of people infected and even medical professionals often lack basic knowledge of the ways the virus is transmitted. In classes devoted to HIV, medical students and teachers often tell pupils the virus is passed through breath or handshakes.

By many in Uzbekistan, HIV is viewed as a death sentence, inseparable from prostitution, drug abuse and crime.

“Many people in Uzbekistan lack awareness. Some know how HIV is transmitted and some associate it with ‘bad behaviour,'” Azima told Al Jazeera. “I went through this. I want people to know what HIV and AIDS are and change their perception.”

According to estimates, between 8,000 and 10,000 HIV-positive people in Uzbekistan are children. Many of them were infected in hospitals through blood transfusions, catheterisation, and reuse of needles and syringes.

The epidemic became visible only in 2007, when AIDS centres saw a rapid increase in the number of young patients. That year, the first daycare centre for HIV-positive minors opened to provide the children with adequate medical, psychological and social support. Currently, there are nine such centres in Uzbekistan.

‘Hospital children’

Azima is one of the so-called “hospital children”. She was born prematurely and the doctors gave her little chances to survive. Aware of her poor health, Azima’s parents abandoned her and she grew up raised by her grandmother.

From her early days, Azima was a diseased child, spending most of her time in hospitals on various forms of treatment. It was only when she was six that the doctors discovered she suffered from HIV.

The diagnosis was like a sentence. Lacking awareness of the illness, and to protect her granddaughter, Azima’s grandmother decided not to disclose the condition to the child. As the social stigma runs deep, most parents hide the diagnosis from their children and relatives.

Azima eventually found out she was HIV-positive at the age of 11. “It was a nightmare. I separated from my friends and stopped taking medications,” she recalled. “It was like falling into a dark tunnel. The whole time I was searching for the light.”

Speaking to Al Jazeera on the condition of anonymity, one mother of an HIV-positive child said: “We haven’t told anyone. Until now, no one knows. Our relatives are asking us why my daughter is taking so many pills. I even change the labels so that no one knows what kind of medicines she takes.”

According to Kamila Fatikhova, a UNICEF consultant and a volunteer psychologist at the Tashkent daycare centre, the fear of other people finding out about the child’s condition is not without reason.

“If someone at school finds out that the child is HIV-positive, the principal may inform the teacher and the teacher may inform the parents. It happens that the child is being threatened and pressure is put on the parents to remove the child from school,” Fatikhova told Al Jazeera. “First of all, it shows that parents are not aware of their rights.”

It was a nightmare. I separated from my friends and stopped taking medications.

For Azima, however, everything changed when she began attending group meetings organised by UNICEF at the daycare centre, where HIV-positive teenagers can meet one another, receive correct information about the virus and, most importantly, psychological and social support.

“A long time has passed, but I remember my first experience with the group vividly. There was a bright, nice room, with pieces of handicraft hanging on the walls, and lots of nice-looking girls. I was so happy to be among them”, Azima recalls. “When my grandma saw me, she started crying because she didn’t expect me to be so happy”.

UNICEF has also provided the group members with training, thanks to which, many of the teenagers began working as trainers themselves, supporting other HIV-positive children.

Azima has been one of the most active and vocal leaders. She visits orphanages and supports those who, just like her, were abandoned by their parents. Her public coming out was the next step in her activism. It was also the beginning of gradual change.

The experiment at the “Time of Miracles” fair, filmed by UNICEF, saw passers-by lining up to embrace Azima. “Many people supported me, which made me very happy. On that day, I wasn’t as nervous, but when I saw the recording from the day at the centre, I couldn’t stop crying”, Azima said.

Azima’s coming out provoked mixed reactions. While her classmates supported her and wanted to find out more about HIV, some of the parents initially forbade their children to play with Azima. It took time and a question and answer session during the parents’ gathering at school to get rid of the fear in her community.

But Azima’s message sparked change among those affected by HIV, too. “I met a few mothers who did not want to inform their children of their status, but after watching Azima on TV they decided to do that,” Fatikhova said. “They saw an HIV-positive girl on TV and realised there is nothing to worry about.”

While eradicating the stigma and fear of HIV in Uzbekistan will be a long and challenging process, the change has begun. “I’ve had a peace of mind since I opened up about my status”, Azima said. “HIV has been part of my life: my medicines, my treatment, my friends, my group. I don’t even imagine what I would be like without it”.

Finding a cure: The future of AIDS

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/world-aids-day-eradicating-stigma-hiv-uzbekistan-181201103611375.html

How a Canadian doctor is fighting HIV-AIDS in one of the hardest-hit countries

A Canadian doctor is helping to treat people infected with HIV-AIDS in Africa. Avis Favaro with more on her mission.

A Canadian doctor has made it her life’s mission to help eradicate HIV-AIDS in a small African nation where nearly one-in-four adults have the disease.

Anne Marie Zajdlik, a family physician from Guelph, Ont., made her first trip to Lesotho 12 years ago. The tiny African nation, which borders South Africa on all sides, has the second-highest prevalence of HIV in the world, with 23 per cent of adults aged 15 to 49 living with the incurable virus.

Dr. Zajdlik has since travelled to Lesotho nine times to provide medical aid. She also treats patients with HIV-AIDS back in Canada.

“I think it’s our responsibly to work both locally and globally to end the AIDS pandemic,” Dr. Zajdlik told CTV News from a remote village in Lesotho.

The trips to Lesotho changed her life forever. Dr. Zajdlik recalls how in 2006 she held a two-year-old girl’s hand as she died from the disease.

“My heart broke and my view of the world was shattered,” she wrote on her blog.

That same year, Dr. Zajdlik established Bracelet of Hope, a charity that sells beaded bracelets for $5 to fund medical clinics and foster homes for children abandoned or infected by HIV-AIDS.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 13 million children worldwide have become orphans after their parents died of AIDS.

The organization’s first goal was to raise $1 million to build Lesotho’s first AIDS clinic. They reached the goal in three years.

Now, Dr. Zajdlik’s team has set an even more ambitious goal: raising $1.5 million to pay for a fleet of six mobile health units. Similar units are already bringing essential aid to adults and children living in some of the most isolated regions of the country.

“We’re watching people here get treatment not only for HIV but also testing, counselling. The kids are being weighed in the trees behind me, and they’re receiving immunizations,” said Dr. Zajdlik.

The organization hopes the efforts will push Lesotho closer to meeting the World Health Organization’s goal of completely eradicating HIV by 2030.

At the moment, an estimated 36.7 million people are living with the virus. More than two-thirds of those people live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“I am so confident we are going to reach that goal. But in order to do that we have to reach out to all people who are suffering from HIV, and a lot of those individuals are in very remote areas of resource-poor countries like this one,” Dr. Zajdlik said.

It’s hard to overstate the HIV-AIDS crisis in Lesotho. Twenty-nine per cent of women in the country have HIV, including one-in-four pregnant women. Men, by comparison, have a prevalence rate of about 18 per cent.

In Canada, an estimated 75,500 people live with HIV-AIDS — less than 1 per cent of the population. Of those, an estimated 16,000 are unaware they are infected, according to a 2014 federal report.

This Saturday marks the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, when organizations around the globe partner together to help eliminate the disease.

With a report by CTV News’ medical affairs specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip

Source: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/how-a-canadian-doctor-is-fighting-hiv-aids-in-one-of-the-hardest-hit-countries-1.4198628

What you need to know about HIV/AIDS today

People living with HIV/AIDS all over the world are still struggling with stigma due to perceptions of the virus as dark and shameful. Here a Filipino man lights candles at a World AIDS Day even in Quezon city, Philippines in 2016. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

More than 60,000 Canadians and 37 million people worldwide are living with HIV. In the early days of HIV and AIDS, there was enormous fear and discrimination — to the extent that in British Columbia politicians debated quarantining individuals with HIV.

Since then, the arc of scientific progress on HIV has been swift. But HIV-related stigma and discrimination are not gone and the global epidemic is far from over.

There are still 2,000 new cases of HIV in Canada each year. Fundraising for AIDS service organizations has slowed and global funding for HIV research and development has declined.

This World AIDS Day we call for recognition that negative judgment and feelings about HIV are intertwined and tangled up with racism, transphobia and homophobia.

You can have HIV and become ‘untransmittable’

Due to access to modern antiretroviral treatments, HIV has become for most a manageable condition. Research from the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) has demonstrated that people with HIV who are taking treatments now have a similar life expectancy to those who are HIV-negative.

This video explains the ‘U=U’ or ‘Undetectable = Untransmittable’ campaign.

Julio Montaner, Director of the BC-CfE, pioneered the concept of ‘treatment as prevention’ (TasP). The medical and scientific community has come to consensus that an individual living with HIV can become “untransmittable” — meaning there is no risk of them sexually transmitting the virus — if they achieve an undetectable viral load through HIV treatment. People living with HIV have led the “undetectable = untransmittable” movement to share this message of hope and to fight against HIV stigma.

According to our own research on the Momentum Health Study, the number of HIV-negative gay men in Vancouver who knew this concept nearly doubled from 2012 to 2015. The good news is that this wasn’t associated with any decreases in condom use.

The bad news: Key messages about HIV prevention and testing may not be reaching all audiences. For example, we found that bisexual men, older men and men living outside of the city were significantly less likely to have been tested for HIV in the past two years.

Unfortunately, efforts to stop the spread of HIV are hindered by fear and stigma. For instance, some gay and bisexual men never get tested for HIV because they worry about the impact it might have on their relationships and sex life, and that they may face discrimination.

Men still fear telling doctors and getting tested

In Canada, it remains a criminal offence not to disclose one’s HIV-positive status in consensual sex if a condom is not used.

This discriminatory law remains despite the now strongly established scientific consensus that an individual with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit the virus. This was proven through a study in which nearly 60,000 acts of condom-less intercourse between serodiscordant couples (where one partner is HIV negative and the other is HIV positive) did not result in HIV transmission.



These fears also make it difficult for men to tell their doctor about sex with other men. At least a quarter of Momentum participants had not told their doctor about having sex with men, and those men were half as likely to have been recently tested for HIV.

The World AIDS Day flag flies on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Dec. 1, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)

Stigma also affects access to services and mental health. Men who experienced more mental challenges (depression and use of multiple illicit drugs) were more likely to engage in sex that could pass HIV.

Feelings of disassociation from the disease can be intertwined with discrimination. For example, HIV risk among trans men in the Momentum Health Study was shaped by difficulty in safely finding sexual partners, challenges with condom use and barriers to accessing health care including transition-related services.

There is an effective HIV-prevention drug

We now have more tools in the HIV prevention toolbox than at the peak of the epidemic. Safer sex, which once referred to condoms alone, now considers issues such as undetectable status and pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.

The HIV prevention medicine PrEP is highly effective when taken consistently and is available at no cost to eligible HIV-negative individuals in British Columbia who are at high-risk of HIV.

Prior to PrEP being covered in B.C., only 2.3 per cent of gay men in the Momentum Health Study in Vancouver had used PrEP. However, the awareness of PrEP more than quadrupled to 80 per cent from 18 per cent during this period.

Although challenges to access remain, thousands of gay men and other people at risk of HIV across B.C. now take PrEP free of charge.

HIV has changed. And our perceptions need to catch up. Now is the time for policymakers, service providers and the country as a whole to embrace a better understanding of HIV.

Complacency, ignorance and continuing to see HIV as something shameful will keep us from advancing in our efforts to support people living with HIV and reduce new infections.

Authors: 

Source: https://theconversation.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-hiv-aids-today-107942

What’s happened in Vancouver since the city approved safe injection sites in 2003

The only other city in North America that has safe injection sites is Vancouver, Canada, which has had at least one site since 2003. A lot of the Denver ordinance is based on what Vancouver has dealt with in the 15 years since allowing supervised injection sites.

A safe injection site would allow for drug users to use in a “safe” place, with staff on hand ready to assist with any overdoses. Addiction services will be provided to those that want it, according to the ordinance’s champion City Council member Albus Brooks. He told 9NEWS this ordinance would take people using out of the shadows and put them in the light.

“You think about the seat belt culture, the AIDS epidemic any of the other radical changes in society,” Watson said. “This is going to be one for this generation.”

Vancouver Coastal Health is the organization that oversees the city’s injection sites since 2003 when the first safe injection site opened. A second one was opened in 2017, according to the organization’s website. Last year, Vancouver Coastal Health reported 175,464 visits by 7,301 people with 2,151 overdose interventions.

“Since [the safe injection sites] opened,” Watson continued, “not a single death has been reported at either of types of sites province-wide.”

Carrie Stefanson with Vancouver Coastal Health told 9NEWS their “harm reduction initiatives,” like providing clean needles, have helped reduce the spread of disease. “The number of cases of HIV diagnosed among people who inject drugs has declined dramatically in [British Columbia] by 86 percent since 2005,” she said via email.

Watson with the B.C. Coroner’s Service said the supervised sites are not a perfect solution, saying some people are still hesitant to come in – worried about safety or being identified and then stigmatized for drug use.

“There are people, white-collar professions – doctors, pro athletes, school teachers – using these substances [and] people down on their luck,” Watson explained.

Across British Columbia, he continued, the number of people dying from overdoses since 2016 has risen. In 2016, there were under 1,000 deaths for the year. In 2017, that number rose to 1,400 deaths. For 2018, British Columbia is on track to see more than 1,500 deaths from illegal drug overdoses in 2018, Watson said.

“The number one problem is fentanyl,” Watson said. Fentanyl is an opioid painkiller many times more powerful than heroin and usually appears on the street mixed in with heroin.

According to Watson, the potent synthetic opioid is now linked to four of out every five overdose deaths in British Columbia.

To see how Denver envisions their injection sites working, head to this link.

Source: https://www.9news.com/article/news/local/next/whats-happened-in-vancouver-since-the-city-approved-safe-injection-sites-in-2003/73-618616972

‘We need a real response to HIV’: NDP urge coverage for drug treatment


Matt Numer, right, assistant professor of health promotion at Dalhousie University, calls on the provincial government to provide universal access to PrEP, a medication that can prevent transmission of HIV, at a news conference at Province House on Wednesday. NDP MLA Tammy Martin and Kirk Furlotte, regional manager for the Community-Based Research Centre, also spoke at the news conference. - Ryan Taplin
Matt Numer, right, assistant professor of health promotion at Dalhousie University, calls on the provincial government to provide universal access to PrEP, a medication that can prevent transmission of HIV, at a news conference at Province House on Wednesday. NDP MLA Tammy Martin and Kirk Furlotte, regional manager for the Community-Based Research Centre, also spoke at the news conference. – Ryan Taplin

 

A significant rise in new cases of HIV infection in Nova Scotia has the New Democrats and health-care advocates urging the Liberal government to provide universal access to a drug they say can eradicate the virus.

“We believe anyone who needs this medication should be able to access it free of charge,” Tammy Martin, the MLA for Cape Breton Centre and the New Democrat health spokeswoman, said at a Province House news conference Wednesday to advocate for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication.

“Places where PrEP is covered see major improvements and reductions in the number of new HIV cases.”

Universal coverage for PrEP, an HIV prevention strategy that uses daily antiretroviral drugs to protect HIV-negative people from infection, is provided in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Those at risk of exposure to HIV take a PrEP pill daily that can reduce the potential of infection by as much as 99 per cent, said Kirk Furlotte, regional manager of Community-Based Research Centre.

In recent years, there had been 15 to 17 new cases of HIV reported annually in the province. Furlotte said as of this week, there have been 25 new cases in 2018.

“Universal access to PrEP can be a simple straightforward solution,” Furlotte said.

Matt Numer, an assistant professor in the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University and chairman of the PrEP Action Committee, said it is time for government to do something.

“As chair of the PrEP Action Committee and as a gay man myself, I and everyone in our community has witnessed the devastating impacts of HIV,” Numer said. “As of right now, we have all the tools necessary to eradicate new HIV infections. The PrEP Action Committee called on government in June of this year to make PrEP accessible to everyone. Instead of acting in the most fiscally responsible and health-conscious manner, the government did as little as possible by listing it on the Pharmacare program. We are continuing to see a spike in new cases.”

Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, attacks the immune system that helps fight off illness. Once the virus gets inside a person’s body, that carrier may not look or feel sick for years but can still infect others. Over time, the immune system grows weaker and those infected become sick with different illnesses. At that stage, the disease has progressed to Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS.

The virus infects people by getting inside blood cells. At risk of contracting the virus are those who have the blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breast milk of someone who is infected enter their body through the mouth, vagina, anus, penis or breaks in the skin. Men having sex with men and people injecting drugs are most commonly identified as risk factors and Dr. Trevor Arnason, the medical health officer for Halifax, said in July that those two factors applied to almost all of the 16 new cases reported in the province up to that time.

As Health Minister Randy Delorey prepared to take part in a flag raising event Thursday to mark HIV/AIDS Awareness Week in the province and World AIDS Day, department spokeswoman Tracy Barron said in an email Wednesday that government does cover PrEP under the Pharmacare program. She said the department is “consulting with community groups to better understand their concerns with this coverage and ways to improve access.”

Martin said it would only cost $250 for the generic PrEP medication for one individual each month, or $3,000 each year. She said 500 would be the extremely high end of an estimated number of people in the province who would apply for access to PrEP, which would amount to a $1.5-million annual investment from government. That $1.5-million investment is about the same as the lifetime cost for one person infected with HIV, she said.

“We need a real response to HIV in this province,” Numer said. “PrEP coverage will save taxpayers money, prevent life-altering illnesses and reduce strain on our already burdened health system. The government of Nova Scotia has known for over a year about the cost savings but it has still not made the decisions necessary to make them happen.”

He said the number of new HIV cases is unacceptable.

“We have the technology to stop HIV. A real response to the HIV outbreak is universal access to PrEP for those who need it. Covering PrEP will save money, reduce health disparities among marginalized populations and reduce devastating impacts of HIV infection.”

The added costs across the province this year to treat the newly infected cases will be approximately $6 million, Numer said.

“A program to cover PrEP would likely cost about $1.5 million at maximum. We implore the government to act.”

A significant rise in new cases of HIV infection in Nova Scotia has the New Democrats and health-care advocates urging the Liberal government to provide universal access to a drug they say can eradicate the virus.

“We believe anyone who needs this medication should be able to access it free of charge,” Wendy Martin, the MLA for Cape Breton Centre and the New Democrat health spokeswoman, said at a Province House news conference Wednesday to advocate for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication.

“Places where PrEP is covered see major improvements and reductions in the number of new HIV cases.”

Universal coverage for PrEP, an HIV prevention strategy that uses daily antiretroviral drugs to protect HIV-negative people from infection, is provided in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Those at risk of exposure to HIV take a PrEP pill daily that can reduce the potential of infection by as much as 99 per cent, said Kirk Furlotte, regional manager of Community-Based Research Centre.

In recent years, there had been 15 to 17 new cases of HIV reported annually in the province. Furlotte said as of this week, there have been 25 new cases in 2018.

“Universal access to PrEP can be a simple straightforward solution,” Furlotte said.

Matt Numer, an assistant professor in the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University and chairman of the PrEP Action Committee, said it is time for government to do something.

“As chair of the PrEP Action Committee and as a gay man myself, I and everyone in our community has witnessed the devastating impacts of HIV,” Numer said. “As of right now, we have all the tools necessary to eradicate new HIV infections. The PrEP Action Committee called on government in June of this year to make PrEP accessible to everyone. Instead of acting in the most fiscally responsible and health-conscious manner, the government did as little as possible by listing it on the Pharmacare program. We are continuing to see a spike in new cases.”

Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, attacks the immune system that helps fight off illness. Once the virus gets inside a person’s body, that carrier may not look or feel sick for years but can still infect others. Over time, the immune system grows weaker and those infected become sick with different illnesses. At that stage, the disease has progressed to Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS.

The virus infects people by getting inside blood cells. At risk of contracting the virus are those who have the blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breast milk of someone who is infected enter their body through the mouth, vagina, anus, penis or breaks in the skin. Men having sex with men and people injecting drugs are most commonly identified as risk factors and Dr. Trevor Arnason, the medical health officer for Halifax, said in July that those two factors applied to almost all of the 16 new cases reported in the province up to that time.

As Health Minister Randy Delorey prepared to take part in a flag raising event Thursday to mark HIV/AIDS Awareness Week in the province and World AIDS Day, department spokeswoman Tracy Barron said in an email Wednesday that government does cover PrEP under the Pharmacare program. She said the department is “consulting with community groups to better understand their concerns with this coverage and ways to improve access.”

Martin said it would only cost $250 for the generic PrEP medication for one individual each month, or $3,000 each year. She said 500 would be the extremely high end of an estimated number of people in the province who would apply for access to PrEP, which would amount to a $1.5-million annual investment from government. That $1.5-million investment is about the same as the lifetime cost for one person infected with HIV, she said.

“We need a real response to HIV in this province,” Numer said. “PrEP coverage will save taxpayers money, prevent life-altering illnesses and reduce strain on our already burdened health system. The government of Nova Scotia has known for over a year about the cost savings but it has still not made the decisions necessary to make them happen.”

He said the number of new HIV cases is unacceptable.

“We have the technology to stop HIV. A real response to the HIV outbreak is universal access to PrEP for those who need it. Covering PrEP will save money, reduce health disparities among marginalized populations and reduce devastating impacts of HIV infection.”

The added costs across the province this year to treat the newly infected cases will be approximately $6 million, Numer said.

“A program to cover PrEP would likely cost about $1.5 million at maximum. We implore the government to act.”

Source: https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/local/we-need-a-real-response-to-hiv-ndp-urge-coverage-for-drug-treatment-263648/

Red Scarf Campaign used as AIDS awareness initiative

Ron Proudfoot, volunteer at AIDS Vancouver Island, shows off the many red scarves available at the Courtenay office. Photo submitted

December 1, 2018, will be the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day.

This year’s theme is ‘Know your status.’

2018 also marks the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in Canada.

Research proves that early detection is the key to successful treatment, but in Canada 25 per cent of the people living with HIV are unaware they have the virus. In addition, many people who have the virus don’t have access to proper medical care and struggle to maintain the regular treatments necessary for survival. In Canada, Aboriginal people remain disproportionately affected by HIV. It is estimated that Aboriginal people make up 12.2 per cent of new HIV infections and 8.9 per cent of those living with HIV in Canada.

This year, as part of Global AIDS Awareness Week and national Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week, AIDS Vancouver Island is participating in the Red Scarf Campaign. Red Scarf is a movement bringing community together to raise awareness and knowledge about the positive advances in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. Red Scarf stands against stigma to improve the lives of those living with, affected by and at risk for HIV/AIDS in the community. Red scarves will be hung in public spaces in downtown Courtenay for people to observe and take home.

Like the red ribbon, every red scarf is a symbol of awareness and support.

Anyone can join the movement by:

• Making/wearing a red scarf

• Take a selfie of themselves wearing a red scarf and posting it to AVI Twitter/Facebook

• Picking up a scarf tied to various objects throughout the city

• Donating in direct support of clients of AIDS Vancouver Island

• Getting yourself tested.

AVI Courtenay will be hosting a testing event on Dec. 3 from 9:30 a.m. – noon at 355 Sixth St. The event will offer free onsite HIV testing, education and treatment information. There will be snacks, games and prizes.

Source: https://www.comoxvalleyrecord.com/home/red-scarf-campaign-used-as-aids-awareness-initiative/

Keshia Chanté Helps Casey House Open the Doors to Healing House, The World’s First HIV+ Spa

TORONTONovember 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ —

95 million North Americans Believe HIV/AIDS is Contracted through Skin-to-Skin Touch

Juno Award winner and activist Keshia Chanté receives first-ever healing touch massage from one of the 15 HIV+ Healers participating in Healing House, the world’s first pop-up HIV+ spa in Toronto, Canada opening today.

According to the Casey House Smash Stigma Survey, almost half (48%) of North Americans would not be willing to share skin-to-skin touch with someone who has HIV/AIDS. Keshia Chanté is encouraging Canadians to join her in the fight to eradicate the stigma faced by 1.8 million people worldwide.

This spa aims to raise awareness about the misconceptions around HIV/AIDS that fuel stigma. Even after 40 years of education there are strong misunderstandings, fears and shame associated with HIV/AIDS. Over half of Canadians think they could likely contract HIV/AIDS from at least one of the following: kissing, skin-to-skin contact or drinking from the same glass of water, and 140 million Americans think they are likely to contract HIV/AIDS from kissing alone. These are perceptions that persist today and are factually incorrect.

“The reality is that, there is a huge lack of public knowledge,” said Keshia Chanté. “I am proud to be part of such an important program and I will be getting the services offered to show people that you cannot contract HIV/AIDS through skin-to-skin touch. I encourage my fellow Torontonians to come down and book a service as well. Until we end stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, I will be talking about it.”

The 15 HIV+ individuals participating in Healing House have been trained by Melissa Doldron, RMT for the Toronto Blue Jays on how to provide healing touch services like hand, neck and shoulder massages that will educate people about the power of touch. All services are free of charge and program partners include Province Apothecary and MAC Cosmetics.

Healing House launches with a media-only day on November 29. Doors open to the public on November 30 from 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. and on December 1, World AIDS Day from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. To book an appointment, you can visit: https://www.smashstigma.ca. You can also visit https://www.caseyhouse.com to donate and help support ground-breaking care based in Toronto.

“Today, we challenge the ongoing stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, a stigma that has no place in our minds or the conversation. We challenge words like blame and shame, and we challenge the false notion that skin-to-skin touch cannot be shared with someone who is HIV+,” said Joanne Simons, CEO of Casey House. “We are proud to be a global leader in HIV/AIDS care, challenging stigma and boldly advocating on behalf of our clients to demand the dignity they deserve.”

What: Healing House, an HIV+ Pop Up Spa Where: 128 Peter Street, Toronto, ON M5V 2G7 When: November 29: 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (VIP and Media Launch only) November 30: 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. December 1: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Follow along here: #smashstigma Casey House Healers, CEO of Casey House Joanne Simons, Keshia Chanté and Photo Opp: Melissa Doldron, RMT
For high res photography of the participating HIV+ healers, a :15 campaign video, and additional survey findings, please visit: https://bit.ly/2PHO2hk.

About Casey House:
Casey House is Canada’s first and only stand-alone hospital for people living with HIV/AIDS. Through our innovative and comprehensive approach to health care, we remain one of the few places where people with HIV/AIDS can seek care without judgement. We are more than a place that saves lives, we are a place that speaks up, shines understanding through compassion, and empowers our clients to get better.

Although many people who live with HIV can manage their disease effectively with a support network and access to treatment, Casey Houseclients are not part of that majority and fall into the category of the 40% of people in Ontario not on treatment. They are vulnerable, seeking safety and in need of nourishment. Casey House will continue to provide unequivocal compassion to clients in need, providing them with a holistic approach to their care and treatment. This facility is possible due to the commitment and generosity of government, individuals, foundations and corporations that believe it is our collective responsibility to take care of all members of our community.

Survey Methodology:
A survey of 1,581 Canadians residents was completed online between October 19-22, 2018 using Leger’s online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.46%, 19 times out of 20.

A survey of 1,501 Americans was completed online between November 1-16, 2018, using Leger’s online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/keshia-chant%C3%A9-helps-casey-house-open-the-doors-to-healing-house-the-world-s-first-hiv-spa-1027766374

Save us from the rented sex dolls, Interior Health

Image Credit: Wisconsinart / Dreamstime.com

 

YOU WOULDN’T USE a second hand condom, would you?

Even if it had been cleaned for hours with top-of-the-line germ-killers and disinfectants?

Of course not.

That’s disgusting enough to the point of being completely nauseating.

Then why would anyone rent a previously-used sex doll?

Like a condom, one of these objects is made for a single user.

Yet here we are, with a sex doll rental business opening up in Kamloops.

Say what you will about the social implications of this issue, either positive or negative.

Disregard for a moment the idea of someone preferring to spend $350 on a doll rather than trying to foster an actual relationship with another human being, and what that says about our increasingly isolated culture.

Set aside what this says about encouraging those with violent sexual tendencies to exercise them on an inanimate object rather than an unsuspecting person.

The most serious implications of this new business are health-related.

While the owner of the business, Kristen Dickson, has assured anyone asking that there is a comprehensive cleaning and sterilization process between uses, her assurances are simply not good enough for the community.

LISTEN: 98.3 CIFM’s Jeremy McParland chats with Kristen Dickson, Owner of House of Dolls

Dickson says Interior Health has left her responsible to come up with her own regime, as it has no regulations surrounding the sanitizing of the dolls.

It absolutely should.

In this case, a business owner asking her customers to trust her with their health is just not good enough.

Interior Health has a different definition of the word ‘dirty’.

There should be stringent regulations and regular visits by trained inspectors to ensure there is no chance of any bacteria or infections being spread from one customer to the next.

If restaurants and salons and day care facilities are made to adhere to strict health and safety practices — under enforcement by Interior Health — a similar matrix is warranted here.

On its surface, when it comes to someone renting an inanimate object for intimate purposes, there is no harm to the wider community.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once famously stated, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”

You do you.

But it is within Interior Health’s mandate to protect public health and safety.

To add on to Trudeau’s words, there is no place for what was in one person’s bedroom in the bedroom of anyone else.

Author: James Peters

Source: https://www.cfjctoday.com/column/646455/save-us-rented-sex-dolls-interior-health

Government of Canada announces support to help reduce HIV and hepatitis C in gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit and queer men in Canada

Today, ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced a significant investment to support community-based initiatives to prevent infections among gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit and queer (GBT2Q) men in Canada.

Through the HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund, the Government of Canada is providing $7.1 million over five years to the Advance Community Alliance—a pan-Canadian community alliance for GBT2Q men’s health—to implement innovative approaches to improve access to STBBI prevention, testing and treatment for this population. The interventions will include new models for testing, along with interventions to increase access to services, and to promote new effective HIV prevention options.

The Advance Community Alliance includes the following community-based organizations:

  1. MAX Ottawa;
  2. AIDS Committee of Toronto;
  3. Health Initiative for Men Society (Vancouver);
  4. Community-Based Research Centre for Gay Men’s Health (Vancouver); and
  5. REZO (Montreal).

Quotes

“New knowledge and innovations in prevention, testing and treatment provide even more tools to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections. This significant investment will help enhance access to these tools, and enable community-led prevention efforts among gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit and queer men across Canada.”

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health

“Though preventable and treatable, sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) are serious and continue to pose a public health risk for Canadians. These infections disproportionately impact Canadians who also experience health inequities, including gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit and queer men. Investing in community-led interventions are critical if we are to slow the spread of STBBIs in Canada.”

Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

“I applaud the work of the Advance Community Alliance, an invaluable resource devoted to equitable and effective access to health services. The Government’s commitment to doing more for those living with sexually transmitted infections along with evidence-based, community-led initiatives are key to breaking down stigma and reducing the spread of HIV.”

Randy Boissonnault, M.P.
Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues

“Gay, bisexual, trans, Two-Spirit, and queer men in Canada remain heavily impacted by HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, as well as mental health issues including depression, problematic substance use and suicide. Developing evidence-based, community-led interventions with stakeholders across the health care system is critical to reducing barriers to essential services for our communities, including HIV testing and treatment, pre-exposure prophylaxis and mental health programs.”

Michael Kwag
Advance Community Alliance Director

Quick Facts

  • The Public Health Agency of Canada is investing $7.1 million to support this initiative. This is part of the Agency’s investment of $132 million over five years through the Community Action Fund. This funding will support community-based initiatives that have the potential to make the greatest impact in slowing the spread of STBBI, including HIV and hepatitis C.
  • Gay and bisexual men, Indigenous peoples, people who use or inject drugs, and people living in or recently released from correctional facilities are some of the groups most affected by HIV and other STBBI. The Community Action Fund aims to reduce new infections among these at-risk populations.

Source: https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/government-of-canada-announces-support-to-help-reduce-hiv-and-hepatitis-c-in-gay-bisexual-transgender-two-spirit-and-queer-men-in-canada-701545391.html