Harm reduction and gay men’s HIV prevention could be considered two historic elements in our HIV response that have long stood separate from one another. Traditionally, HIV prevention with gay men focused on sexual risk, while harm reduction focused on risks associated with injection drug use. Both approaches have evolved over the decades and some might argue that safer sex is a form of harm reduction, but in the context of drug use, there has been little focus given to harm reduction in the context of gay men’s sexual health.
Ending the HIV epidemic in Canada in five years seems like an ambitious goal, but it is now in fact a target being advocated by a group of public health and HIV advocates in a new document published by the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR). I am one of the authors of that document, which acknowledges the necessity of addressing racism and structural violence. But, except for support from a couple co-authors, I am dispirited by the co-authors’ failure to be clear about the difference those systemic and structural issues make, to inspire determination in addressing them, and to illustrate what is at stake and what it means to address racism and structural disadvantage.
Canada’s overdose crisis continues to grow, claiming nearly 4,000 lives last year alone. In the midst of this emergency, more than 1,000 frontline workers converged in Edmonton last month for Stimulus 2018, Canada’s first national conference on harm reduction and drug policy.
The CATIE Blog hosts the views and opinions of people and organizations working and volunteering in Canada’s response to HIV and hepatitis C.