At the opening of the recent 25th Harm Reduction International Conference in Montreal, the Minister of Health Jane Philpott announced that more people have died in the overdose epidemic in the past few years than died during the height of the AIDS crisis in the late 80s and early 90s. In 2016, it is estimated that 2,300 people died of overdose—preventable deaths caused by the prohibition of drugs.
In response to that sobering and sad announcement, we wrote an article asking for people engaged in the response to HIV to show support and solidarity with people who use drugs. We believe that making connections between the two epidemics can help build solidarity, increase public support and mobilize people into action to address the national overdose crisis. We wrote:
“People who have lived through the AIDS crisis, who work in HIV organizations, who call themselves allies of the HIV community, who have attended an HIV fundraiser, who have learned about the history of AIDS activism, we make an appeal to you: The time for you to step up and end the massive injustice taking place against people who use drugs is now. We need more resources. We need the government to take our solutions seriously. We need the overdose epidemic to be declared a national emergency. Help us do this.”
So what can you do if you want to show support and solidarity? Here are six things you and your organization can do:
The possible unintended consequences of the introduction of PrEP to the sex industry is something that has been discussed in international sex work advocacy since at least 2012. So, when I saw that new PrEP prescription guidelines for Canada were being drafted, stating that “sex-trade workers” were a “significant risk of having transmissible HIV,” I was troubled that there had been no community consultation whatsoever. National guidelines required a national convening.
The Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care (CTFPHC) released its HCV Screening Guidelines today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on Monday. To the dismay of experts across Canada including hepatitis C specialists, advocacy groups, and stakeholders, the new screening guidelines ignore expert advice regarding who should be tested for Hep C, setting a dangerous public health policy where dollars come first and the health of Canadians comes last.
Early this year, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Ontario announced the lowering of eligibility requirements for access to public coverage for life-changing hepatitis C drugs, including Epclusa, Zepatier, daclatasvir and asunaprevir. These drugs will be available to those with lower fibrosis scores for the first time (the greater the fibrosis score, the more severe the liver scarring, or cirrhosis, caused by disease.)[i]
La transmission du VIH et du VHC constitue encore aujourd’hui un problème de santé publique de première importance. Certains comportements, comme l’usage de drogues par injection et par inhalation, entraînent des risques importants de transmission. En effet, selon les données de surveillance [i], 15 % des personnes qui vont dans les centres d’accès au matériel d’injection et d’inhalation sont infectées au VIH et 63 % au VHC.
The CATIE Blog hosts the views and opinions of people and organizations working and volunteering in Canada’s response to HIV and hepatitis C.