Health Canada’s statement on the status of naloxone is a welcome drug policy paradigm shift

By Dr. Lynne LeonardLynne Leonard pic

The administration of naloxone, a chemical compound that effectively temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, is recommended by the World Health Organization to be used in the case of an opioid overdose. Naloxone is currently available in Canada only in an injectable form and by prescription only; it can only be administered to the person named on the prescription, not to a third party. With the objective of making naloxone more widely available in Canada to address the growing number of opioid overdoses, and consequent on a review of health and safety data, Health Canada has suggested an amendment to the prescription drug list to allow non-prescription use of naloxone specifically for emergency use for opioid overdose outside hospital settings. A public consultation on the proposal has been initiated and if the change in status continues to be supported by consultation evidence, the change will be finalized.

Queer women are ignored in HIV research: this is a problem and here is why it matters

By Carmen Logiecarmen logie

Lesbian, bisexual and queer women are rarely included in HIV research. Women who have sex with women, and their HIV infection rates, are not captured anywhere because women cannot report having a woman as a sexual partner in Canada’s HIV statistics. The current record only allows women to report HIV exposure either through injection drug use or heterosexual sex. This contributes to the erasure of women’s sexual and gender diversity and fluidity in HIV research. Queer* women are ignored in HIV research: this is a problem and here is why it matters.

Making the most of a new HIV testing technology

By Mark Gilbert

Mark Gilbert

There are a lot of new test technologies in the pipeline: both new types of tests in the works, such as rapid syphilis tests or point-of-care HIV viral load testing, and new ways to use existing tests, such as self-testing or online testing.

As testing options increase, we need to think about where they will have the most impact. I learned about this from helping implement a new test technology called pooled nucleic acid amplification testing (pooled NAAT) at six clinics in Vancouver in 2009, as part of a research study to determine the impact of this new type of test on gay men’s lives. With pooled NAAT, blood samples that are negative on a routine screen for HIV antibodies are automatically tested for HIV RNA. This shortens the HIV window period to 10-12 days and means that individuals with very early or acute infection – when HIV viral load and chances of transmission are high – can be diagnosed at a time when standard tests are negative.

Hep C: Solved with a Cure?

daryl-lusterBy Daryl Luster

Hepatitis C is curable, reads the script; time and time again I hear this said, have read it, and say it myself. This is great news and a reality for more people than ever before.

Does this mean that the job is done? I suppose it depends on one’s perspective. As I listened to members of the science research community speak recently, it is “done and dusted.” “Problem solved,” the headlines will read. Okay, maybe no headlines but a mention on page 4 with a minor piece in the late evening news, even though this may be the biggest news in medical science in decades.

HIV and infant feeding: A complex debate

By Logan Kennedy12-Coping_with_Your_Feelings

There is a quiet tension that exists surrounding HIV and infant feeding. Although practices and recommendations vary around the world, breastfeeding is not recommended for infants born to an HIV-positive woman or trans man in Canada. Instead, HIV-positive parents are counselled to feed their infants with formula.

But I don’t think it is by any means a closed case, even in Canada. The truth is, the debate about HIV and infant feeding (particularly in Canada) has never been more complex. Like so many discussions related to HIV today, scientific advances are changing the way we talk about and consider possibilities. New questions about treatment as prevention, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and even levels of ‘risk’ seem to emerge every day.