On December 1, World AIDS Day, The Hon. Dr. Jane Philpott, Canada’s Minister of Health, declared that our country endorses the UNAIDS treatment targets that look to seeing an end to the global AIDS epidemic by 2030. On the same day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement that, in part, declared “we are now at a point where we can envision a future free of this terrible disease.”
How many people are infected with HIV every day in Canada? What do HIV infection rates look like in specific populations?
Every year, surveillance reports tell us how many Canadians have been diagnosed with HIV. But since a large fraction of HIV-positive Canadians have not been diagnosed, these numbers don’t give us the full picture.
A test is a test, right? I’ve struggled with the issues of why HIV testing matters over the last 25 years, and over that time I’ve seen the ebb and flow of debates and discussions on why testing is still an important issue for Canada. I’ve also seen the frustration among those who do not have access to testing and why that matters. Yes, knowing your HIV status is still an important health issue for Canadians. However, with the complex array of debates on the pros and cons of testing, including the very real concerns about confidentiality; the need for pre- and post-test counselling; limited access to testing innovations such as point-of-care testing (POCT); the gendered nature of testing along with some popular misconceptions about it, there is definitely room for improvement moving forward. Simply put: We can and must do better in our national leadership around HIV testing issues in this country.
In the lead up to the election, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights produced a series of policy briefs that outlined actions the Government of Canada could take on a range of sexual and reproductive rights-related issues. We’ve already seen movement on some of the proposals, but as a whole these briefs still offer a road map to the changes the country needs to make to meet its sexual and reproductive rights obligations.
By Laurel Challacombe
Three decades of awareness campaigns have instilled a very clear and consistent message to the public: condoms are the most effective way to prevent an HIV infection.
So what happens when a new prevention method emerges – and it is also highly effective?
In recent years, multiple studies have confirmed that maintaining an undetectable viral load through the consistent and correct use of antiretroviral treatment (ART) by people living with HIV dramatically reduces the risk of HIV transmission. The reduction is so great that ART can now be offered as a highly effective HIV prevention option.