Testing for everyone!
The journey to ending Canada’s HIV epidemic begins with testing.
...we need to step out of the box and challenge assumptions. To beat HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases we need to make testing easier and dramatically more accessible.
Game-changing developments in science have made HIV a livable disease. Yet, in recent years new HIV cases in Canada have increased in startling contrast to the downward trend among other G7 countries.
Still, fear of stigma ––being treated badly by healthcare workers, not having a culturally safe place for testing or the appropriate support for the testing, or fears over HIV test confidentiality––remain major barriers to reaching the undiagnosed.
HIV/AIDS leaders; people with lived experience; CANFAR. Ending the Epidemic in Canada in Five Years. (2019)
Diagnosing the roughly 9,000 Canadians who don't know they have HIV is critical to helping them access life-extending treatments and preventing further transmission of the disease.
Neuropsychologist & scientist, MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions
Canadians with HIV don't know they have it
Recent study in Ontario about HIV stigma where over 700 people were interviewed (2019)
Our challenge: reaching the undiagnosed
Those likely most at-risk... men who have sex with men (‘MSM’), black people of African and Caribbean background living in Canada, Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Métis and Inuit), people who use and inject drugs, and at-risk youth and women.
people won’t get tested because they fear being found out and treated differently
National survey funded by the Public Health Association of Canada of over 2,400 Canadians (2018)
Being Indigenous doesn't make you more prone to HIV. Living without
State of Public Health in Canada (2019)
You need to know your HIV status
You can’t rely on symptoms to know whether you have HIV –– you can look and feel perfectly healthy and still carry the virus. Testing is the only way to know for certain - HIV testing options and services are available across Canada, these include community clinics or your family doctor to anonymous testing at a health centre where your name or other identifying information won't be collected.
For more information about services available near you, contact your local public health department or an HIV testing site.
Guys, let's talk about testing!
Young gay men account for 1 in 5 HIV infections, yet few gay or bisexual men are talking about HIV with anyone, even with those closest to them. Regardless of HIV status, we all have a role to play in ending the epidemic.
of gay or bisexual men say they rarely talk about HIV and testing with an intimate partner
of high-risk HIV-negative GBM were not tested for HIV
Canadian collaboration between researchers and community-based organizations on HIV and sexual health among gay, bi, and queer men, including trans men, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) in Canada (2019), KFF.org
To reach the undiagnosed, let’s develop and deploy technology that supports equitable access to testing.
It's time to give HIV the finger!
The World Health Organization recommends countries implement self-testing strategies as a way to reduce the number of people living with undiagnosed HIV. Where Canada has lagged, dozens of countries, including France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S., have already adopted self-testing regulations.
While self-testing kits are yet to be approved for use in Canada, researchers at The MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto launched a study on HIV self-testing kits in August 2019, with the goal of gaining federal approval for their use by the spring of 2020.
Self-testing technology could remove many of the barriers people face to getting tested for HIV, including lack of access to a health-care provider, travel and wait times and concerns about confidentiality.
more HIV infections detected through self-testing over local testing services
of participants in a self-testing study who learned of positive results, sought treatment
According to a U.S. government study that resulted in many more infections found — including among friends with whom recipients shared extra kits, See Link
I remember meeting some guys who would just say, “I’m positive, I’m HIV positive,” end of story, they didn’t flinch, they didn’t show any shame. To me those people were my heroes. I wanted so much to be like them.