This is not a test: Why health equity matters in improving access to HIV testing

By Jacqueline Gahagan, PhD 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...

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New Government, New Priorities: Let’s meet the needs of all people in Canada

By Frédérique Chabot and Sarah Kennell It’s been a long and winding campaign trail and like most of the country, we’re waiting in anticipation to see what this new government will do. 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...

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How effective are HIV prevention methods?

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.

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Canada’s anti-harm reduction guardians close door on hepatitis strategy

By Laurie Edmiston and Melisa Dickie We just returned from the first World Hepatitis Summit hosted by the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Scottish government. The Scottish government was a partner because Scotland has exercised leadership in the fight against hepatitis C and, unlike Canada, has a national strategy to combat hepatitis C.* The focus of the World Hepatitis Summit was viral hepatitis, specifically hepatitis B and C. Hepatitis B has a vaccine; giving it to newborns or school-age children in Canada is standard practice. However, this is not the case...

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Oh Canada, we’re ready for your leadership

By Patricia Bacon I had the honour of attending the recent and first-ever World Hepatitis Summit in Glasgow, Scotland from September 2-4, 2015. What a treat it was to come together with hundreds of other people from around the globe to discuss the often ignored health issue of viral hepatitis. Here I was, “amongst my people,” talking like crazy about viral hepatitis as if it were important or something. How new and novel, because here in Canada viral hepatitis is the conversation we never have, despite the fact that at least 250,000 Canadians are affected by it.

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How do you communicate HIV risk information?

By James Wilton “What is the risk of HIV transmission through condomless anal sex if I am the receptive partner?” “How low is the risk if my viral load is undetectable?” “What’s the risk if my partner was in the acute phase of HIV infection when we had sex?” Questions about HIV risk aren’t easy to answer and—with all the recent advancements in our understanding of HIV transmission and prevention—things aren’t getting any easier!

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