Government of Canada makes HIV testing more accessible across the country

Government of Canada makes HIV testing more accessible across the country

New investments in decentralized testing will help ensure that HIV is no longer a public health problem by 2030.

MONTREAL, Aug. 1, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ – Public Health Agency of Canada

We know that nearly 63,000 people are currently living with HIV in Canada, and 10% of them are undiagnosed. Despite ongoing efforts to encourage testing, there are still systemic barriers to accessing HIV testing, including stigma and discrimination experienced in health care settings. That’s why our government is making new investments in decentralized testing to support progress towards eliminating HIV as a public health problem by 2030.

Today, at AIDS 2022, the 24th International AIDS Conference, the Honorable Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s Minister of Health, announced a total of $17.9 million for kit distribution HIV self-testing and other HIV testing methods that will improve access for populations most affected by HIV in the country, including people living in northern, remote or isolated (NIS) communities.

The efforts of community organizations are essential in the fight against HIV and in reaching the populations most affected by HIV in the country. These include Indigenous, African, Caribbean and Black populations as well as the LGBTQ2 community, people from countries where HIV is endemic, people who inject drugs and people who sell, exchange or buy services sexual. That’s why $8 million of this funding will be used to acquire self-testing kits and support community organizations, including Indigenous organizations, to make testing more accessible within the populations they serve. organizations. HIV self-test kits provide a safe, reliable and confidential way to test for infection, while significantly reducing the barriers to care-seeking often created by stigma and discrimination.

Through the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML), Canada will also invest an additional $9.9 million to expand community screening initiatives in NEI communities. The NML will also support the training, auditing and ongoing quality monitoring of these community screening programs. For people living in NIS communities, access to community-owned, community-managed, and culturally appropriate infectious disease testing options can be key to improving their overall health. . With these funds, organizations and communities will be able to purchase diagnostic tests for screening, confirmation and ongoing monitoring in the community; this way, samples can be analyzed on site and do not have to be sent elsewhere, speeding up diagnostics.

During the pandemic, COVID-19 molecular testing services were implemented in health care facilities in First Nations communities across Canada to improve access to testing and timeliness of results. The option of “testing close to home” is essential to ensure equitable access to testing and address the lack of testing capacity in remote communities. In addition to previous funding, the British Columbia Center for Disease Control (CCMCB) and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) will receive $1.2 million in funding announced today to expand on previous initiatives and determine if it is possible to screen for other infectious diseases, including sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza.

Reaching people who have not been diagnosed with the infection is the first step to making treatment available to them and ultimately reaching an undetectable viral load. When it comes to HIV, undetectable = untransmissible (I=I). The Government of Canada proudly supports the U=I Call to Action and encourages other countries to join Canada and the United States in supporting this message at the AIDS 2022 conference. U=U action increases uptake of HIV testing and treatment and brings us closer to suppressing the virus, contributing to our 95-95-95 targets for HIV and reaching the international goal of ending HIV and AIDS as a public health issue by 2030.

Together, these investments will dramatically improve access to testing, empower individuals and communities to take control of their health, and reduce barriers to accessing stigma-free care.

Quotes

“Making tests more accessible by distributing them directly to people removes the barriers that too often prevent people from getting tested, treated and treated. Although this is an important step for many people affected by HIV, we are aware that there is still much to be done. Together, let’s re-engage, follow the science and chart the course towards a world without HIV/AIDS.”

The Honorable Jean-Yves Duclos
Health Minister

“For many people, it is still difficult to access timely and culturally appropriate HIV testing and treatment services, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these challenges. The adoption of innovative screening methods, such as those funded today, reduces the barriers associated with conventional methods. Ensuring everyone has access to solutions for testing and treating infectious diseases like HIV is a top priority for the Government of Canada. »

The Honorable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

Quick Facts

– The HIV incidence rate in Canada is estimated at 4.0 cases per 100,000 population in 2020. Rates are higher for certain populations, such as people who inject drugs (239.4 cases per 100 000 population), gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with sexually active men (166.2 cases per 100,000 population), and indigenous populations (15.2 cases per 100,000 population). This means that approximately 16,690 people in Canada are not supported or represented on the continuum of HIV care.

– On July 29, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $15 million to the Joint and Cosponsored United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) to support the global fight against HIV.

– In 2020, Health Canada made the historic decision to authorize the use of the first HIV self-testing kit in Canada. Research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research contributed to the approval of this technology.

– Community organizations across Canada have been instrumental in distributing HIV self-test kits, especially among populations most affected by the virus. With Canada’s support, these organizations will be able to distribute the kits more widely and reach more audiences through their work.

– The NML helps provide the training and resources needed to build the capacity of community-run and owned health facilities to deliver culturally appropriate services in safe settings. NML’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has helped improve screening in northern, remote and isolated communities.

– Making self-testing kits and other forms of decentralized testing available in Canada could accelerate progress toward the UNAIDS 2025 targets of having 95% of people living with HIV are aware of their status, that 95% of people diagnosed with HIV receive antiretroviral treatment and that 95% of people treated are virally suppressed.

– Canada is committed to equitable health, ensuring that no one is left behind. By supporting community organizations, Canada is ensuring that these goals are met for populations most affected by HIV, as well as for different age groups, genders and regions of the country.

Health Index publication: 2022-08-03 – Number of visits since publication: 88

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