Category: Opinions

 

HPV Vaccine: Who needs it?

Did you know that men can get HPV cancers? HPV (the human papillomavirus) causes warts, pre-cancers and cancers. HPV is most famous for causing cervical cancer so it has mainly been linked in people’s minds to cancer in women. Because of that, HPV cancer prevention programs have only focused on women (for example, governments spend many millions on cervical cancer screening and immunizing girls against HPV). However, HPV is readily passed between partners and the other half of the world (men!) get HPV as much as women do. So let us get the facts straight about HPV in men and women and what to do about it.

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HIV disclosure is more than a one-time conversation

Decades after the emergence of HIV, disclosure remains one of the biggest challenges for women living with HIV. There’s nothing easy or straightforward about it. When thinking about whether to tell someone about their HIV-positive status, women must consider a range of possible results, for themselves as well as their families. Some women find that disclosure can help bring peace of mind, with more freedom from fear and stress. Being able to talk honestly about their health and get day-to-day support can be a relief. Very close relationships involve sharing, vulnerability and listening, and sometimes women find that disclosure leads...

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Six ways to make harm reduction work in Canada’s prisons

In Canada today, prisoners who inject drugs need to share needles, many of which have been used numerous times by other prisoners. Without access to sterile injection equipment, rates of HIV and hepatitis C virus are much higher behind bars than in the broader community. Prison-based needle and syringe programs (PNSPs) are an important way to address this public health problem, yet Canadian correctional authorities often claim they won’t work. A recent study demonstrates that PNSPs are indisputably feasible in Canada and should be implemented now. A new report, On Point: Recommendations for Prison-Based Needle and Syringe Programs in Canada,...

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Supervised injection in Toronto will improve the health of people who inject drugs

Over the past year, advocates or elected officials in Montreal, Ottawa, Victoria, Baltimore, New York City, Ithaca (NY), Seattle, San Francisco, Glasgow and four cities in Ireland have called  for the implementation of supervised injection services. More recently, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. David McKeown recommended that the Board of Health start a community consultation process toward establishing supervised injection services within three existing facilities in the city. The Board voted unanimously in favour.  As the lead investigators of the TOSCA study  (the Toronto and Ottawa Supervised Consumption Assessment), we support Dr. McKeown’s proposal and look forward to the...

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We’re all mad here: It’s time to demand affordable Hep C treatment!

My daughter has a smartphone cover that says: “We’re all mad here”. It’s from Alice in Wonderland. I like it; and when it comes to hepatitis C treatment and pricing, it’s quite on point. In 2014, Canada and the rest of the world turned a miraculous corner – a cure for viral hepatitis C was on the market. Wonderful and amazing. Why? Well, viral hepatitis C is the only chronic viral infection that now has a cure – that is, a cure for virtually everyone, with a cure rate of 95 per cent.

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5 ways that PrEP highlights gender inequities in HIV

One of the most memorable moments in my 20 years working in the HIV field happened in a standing-room-only meeting hall in Vienna at the International AIDS Conference in 2010. This was the moment that the clinical trial CAPRISA 004 announced proof-of-concept for prevention of HIV among women using a vaginal microbicide (1% tenofivir gel). The entire room broke out in a standing ovation and tears of joy. Finally! A prevention tool that could allow a woman to protect herself in sexual encounters, regardless of the desires and wishes of her sexual partner. Five years later, microbicides have not yet...

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