It’s cold in Thompson, Manitoba. The snow squeaks and the roads are nearly pure ice; everyone drives a truck up here. I’ve arrived here to do a three-day training alongside Gina McKay from Sexuality Education Resource Centre and Carrie Pockett from Play it Safer Network. With some resources from Keewatin Tribal Council’s Adele Sweeny, we’ll be spending time with 25 people from 16 First Nations communities in the area.
Recent developments in prevention are pointing to worrying gaps in the community-based approach to HIV prevention in Canada.
Perhaps we have been used to having only a single prevention technology on our books for so long – think condoms – that our ducks are not always in a row when new ones like PrEP come along. Thus potholes in our response become apparent – and none leap in to fix them.
After a series of somewhat inconclusive PrEP trials, whose results were marred by adherence issues, the results of more stringent trials like the PROUD and IPERGAY studies are in, and they are good. So good, in fact, that it would now be foolish not to put PrEP right at the front of the shelf that features ways to stay HIV-negative.
What happens when much of your life is built around a particular position or identity, and then that identity changes?
In 1993, while in the hospital having my daughter, I was diagnosed with hepatitis C. Three years ago, I did the ribavirin and pegylated interferon treatment and cleared the virus. It’s very cool to be living virus-free after 25+ years of being positive, but it is also kind of weird.
Adam Cook is a policy researcher at the Canadian Treatment Action Council.
The development of treatment for the cure of hepatitis C (HCV) is moving at a dizzying pace. Indeed, the entire HCV story is one of an unusually fast trajectory, not only the speed of treatment development, but also the spread of the virus. While early cures were injection-based, difficult to tolerate, and boasting a mere 50% success rate after a year of treatment, there now exist cures that involve one pill, once a day, for a regimen that often doesn’t exceed twelve weeks. There are clinical trials being conducted presently to evaluate the efficacy of new treatments at eight and 10 weeks.1 Over 300,000 Canadians are infected with HCV, with many of them unaware of their status.
For those of us who work in HIV and Hep C prevention, the advent of new prevention approaches has made us increasingly dependent on evidence for making informed decisions about the best strategies to use with a particular client or community.
The CATIE Blog hosts the views and opinions of people and organizations working and volunteering in Canada’s response to HIV and hepatitis C.