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PHAN Inform.

world AIDS day

getting to zero

HIV IS IN PEEL Berkha Gupta

Community Engagement Coordinator

For the last 24 years, World AIDS  Day has been celebrated globally on December 1st as a key opportunity to raise awareness, celebrate victories in the movement while also commemorating those who have passed on. Based on the current  UNAIDS  strategy, the World  AIDS  Day campaign for 2011-2015 is “Getting to Zero”. The International World  AIDS Day campaign focuses on three facets – “Zero new HIV Infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.” In its second year, the Peel  HIV/AIDS  Network will once again join other communities worldwide to support the theme of “Getting to Zero” through a Regionwide campaign, including a multi-dimensional event on December 1st, the launch of a Testing Campaign and the release of this World  AIDS  Day “Getting to Zero” Edition of the PHAN Inform. It has been just over 30

years since the first reports of an HIV  diagnosis were made; we have made incredible progress. A person living with HIV is now able to live a longer, happier life and the risk of transmission from mother-to-child or individuals on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) is nearly zero. However, there is still no cure for HIV. There is no vaccine. The number of people living with HIV in Canada is at its highest and in spite of higher levels of awareness and education, HIV transmission rates are still at an all time high. Discrimination and stigma towards people living with and affected by HIV is still a very real issue. We are often asked whether  HIV  is an issue in the Peel Region. The assumption is that it is a Toronto issue or a bigcity issue; that it is an issue affecting “other” people, namely gay men, African Caribbean populations

Winter 2012

and IDU users. But the truth is that HIV AFFECTS EVERYONE. HIV DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE. HIV IS IN PEEL. And it is as much an issue in Peel as anywhere else. Moving beyond 30 years, the Campaign’s goal is to ensure that governments and policy makers meet the HIV targets they set, the commitments they made, and mobilise the necessary resources for a world where people do not die of  AIDSrelated illnesses. At the heart of the global commitment is non-discriminatory and non-judgmental access to adequate  HIV  prevention, treatment, care and support for all. For World  AIDS  Day this year, we encourage you to use the articles and resources in this Newsletter to continue advocating and supporting us in “Getting to Zero” in Peel Region. Modified/adapted from: World AIDS Day Campaign: http://bit.ly/sqrezN UNAIDS Strategy: http://bit.ly/t0pUiy

You can view details of the UNAIDS Strategy at http://ow.ly/fJ4xE

LAUNCH & POSTER

TESTING CAMPAIGN testingpeel.phan.ca

WELCOME! Dear Readers, It is with great pleasure that we bring to you our second PHAN Inform, the World AIDS Day Edition. To our returning readers, we thank you for all your positive feedback on the Pride Edition. To our new readers, we’re glad you picked up a copy or opened the link and hope that you find this edition informative and engaging. We’re excited to launch our testing campaign in this edition alongside articles and resources to support the international World AIDS Day theme of ‘Getting to Zero’. As always, we’d love it if you passed this on to other community members and just like last time, we look forward to your feedback. Wishing you a great holiday season and we will see you in 2013! Sincerely, Editorial Team


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PHAN Inform.

EVENT RECAP Pride Week in Peel

We celebrated the second Pride Week in Peel this year from July 9th – 15th. The week saw 12 events hosted through the week by various Agencies across the Region. The highlight of the week was the March and Community Fair, held for the first time at Celebration Square in Mississauga. The event saw over 300 people attend and many community agencies show their support. Marchers proudly painted their faces, carried signs and chanted through the streets of Mississauga. As one of the agencies planning the Week, we were glad to help further the fight against homophobia and transphobia by creating visible and safer spaces in Peel for the queer and trans* community. Stay updated for the 2013 Pride Week in Peel by checking out www.prideweekinpeel.ca.

The PHAN Inform looks to provide current information and resources regarding HIV/AIDS that target and reflect the diverse community of the Region of Peel while also providing our community with cutting-edge knowledge of HIV/AIDS from across the globe.

EDITORIAL Adam Chalcraft Harm Reduction Coordinator Berkha Gupta Community Engagement Coordinator Arron Maynard Men’s Health Promotion Coordinator Nishit Shah PHA Engagement Worker Keith Wong Executive Director

CONTRIBUTERS Laurie Edmiston Executive Director, CATIE Lilian Kang’u Women’s Community Development Student Placement Christine (Tina) Obwanga Women’s Community Development Coordinator Bridget Young PHA Capacity Building Worker

LAYOUT AND DESIGN Ifhtia Haque Special thanks to all of those who showed their support and helped this publication move forward.

AIDS WALK FOR LIFE PEEL We hosted our 17th Annual Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life on September 25th, 2012 at Chinguacousy Park in Brampton. In spite of the damp weather, over 100 people, including kids, attended and participated in the 3KM walk followed by a BBQ and entertainment. We thank our walkers, donors, sponsors, performers and volunteers for making the day possible and for helping us raise over $10,000 for HIV/AIDS prevention, education and Support in the Peel Region. Stay updated for the 2013 AIDS Walk for Life – Peel by checking out www.aidswalkpeel.com.

Peel HIV/AIDS Network 160 Traders Blvd E, Unit 1 Mississauga, ON L4Z 3K7 t: 905-361-0523 / f: 905-361-1004 tf:1-866-896-8700 w: www.phan.ca / e: info@phan.ca

CRA Business #: 13829 4640 RR0001


PHAN Inform.

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Could we have an AIDS-Free Generation? Laurie Edmiston

Executive Director, CATIE Article first published in Huffington Post, November 28th, 2012

AIDS Conference this past July in Washington D.C. was that we may now be able to achieve an “AIDS-free generation.” That means: no one will be born with the virus; as people age, they will be at a far lower risk of becoming infected than

Women and HIV Lilian Kang’u

Community Development Student Placement

There are a growing number of women living with HIV /AIDS in Canada. While HIV affects both women and men, there are several reasons why women are at higher risk of HIV infection such as biological, socioeconomic factors and access to resources.1 As we celebrate World AIDS Day on December 1st, 2012, it is important to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS among women around this year’s theme of ‘Getting to Zero’. Women face challenges when it comes to accessing HIV testing, including stigma and discrimination, fear of violence, and cultural barriers around sexuality.2 These factors play an important role to determine women’s ability to protect themselves from HIV infection, to go for testing, and to access care, once diagnosed. To minimize barriers and increase women’s

access to HIV testing, recommendations have been made such as: 1.Consultations with women on testing services and programs, since women are in a better position to identify the barriers they face and what is required to alleviate them 2.Raising awareness and education in the general population about HIV, how it’s transmitted, the benefits of early diagnosis, reducing the stigma associated to testing, and encouraging more people to seek testing 3.Making anonymous and rapid testing available where they are not established, so women have easier access; this includes providing testing options for women accompanied by adequate pre and post-test counseling tailored to their linguistic and cultural beliefs, without a judgemental attitude.3 1 World health organization. Gahan and Sharman 2009.p.8 3 www.cdnaids.ca/

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significant challenges that need to be addressed before we get there. New understanding about HIV First, a word about those things that give us confidence. We now have newer medications for people living with HIV that are easier to take and have fewer sideeffects, thereby making HIV treatment more manageable. These medications also allow people living with HIV to CONTINUED ON P11

Request a Workshop The Peel HIV/AIDS Network offers free workshops on HIV/AIDS and other related topics that educate, empower and support individuals to make healthier and safer sexual choices. Workshops can be tailored to the needs of community members and at-risk populations or to service providers and agencies, to increase their capacity to educate and support at-risk populations. Just tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll adapt our workshop to fit your needs. Some of the topics we can cover are: • HIV/AIDS 101 • HIV/AIDS 201 • Harm Reduction • HIV Testing • Intro to LGBTTIQQ2S Communities • Anti-Homophobia • Anti-Transphobia • PHA Speaker We are also connected with many community partners that can offer other HIV-related workshops to meet your needs! For more information or to request a workshop, contact: Christine (Tina) Obwanga Women’s Community Development Coordinator tinao@phan.ca or (905) 361-0523 ext. 222 Berkha Gupta Community Engagement Coordinator berkhag@phan.ca or (905) 361-0523 ext. 211

ZERO AIDS RELATED DEATHS

Recent advances in our understanding of HIV transmission, treatment, prevention and testing are changing the landscape of our response to HIV and generating a significant amount of optimism. The buzz at the International

they are today; and if they do acquire HIV, they will get treatment that keeps them healthy and prevents them from transmitting the virus to others. Similarly, the United Nations AIDS organization’s “Getting to Zero” campaign for World AIDS Day, December 1, signifies the aim of getting to zero new infections, zero AIDSrelated deaths, and zero discrimination. There are many reasons why we should feel these commendable goals can be achieved. But there are also


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PHAN Inform.

Pozitivity at Work Nishit Shah

PHA Engagement Coordinator

Bridget Young

PHA Capacity Building Coordinator

Sergio Rueda, Director of Health Research Initiatives at the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), surveyed 2,000 people living with HIV (PHAs) in Ontario and found that only 40 percent of men and 48 percent of women were employed. Rueda also analyzed data from a group of 1,525 HIVpositive men in the United States: 41 percent of them were continuously employed over 10 years, 25 percent were unemployed and 20 percent worked on and off. Some of the barriers for

PHAs returning to work include episodic illnesses, fatigue, depression, social support rules and/or discrimination at work. Despite these barriers, many PHAs are keen to get back to work.  This is where Employment Action comes in. Dedicated to providing employment solutions to PHAs, Employment Action is the first not-for-profit service of its kind in Canada, and is now available at PHAN. For people with HIV who return to work, the value

is huge. In a recent survey study, OHTN’s Rueda looked at 18 previous studies charting workplace status and health. These reports revealed that working is not just associated with good health—since, of course, healthier people are more likely to work—but also that “these findings suggest causation,” Rueda says. “Employment leads to better health.” He also discovered in this study that losing a job can put a dent in your health, but going back to work later on can bump it back up again. A paying job gives you money, which allows you to eat well, find a good home and, like Ian Nelson, enjoy healthful perks like gym

memberships and vacations. In a 2011 survey of people with HIV in Ontario, led by Rueda, people said the most important thing a job gave them was a sense of identity. “Work lets you be defined by what you do, not just by your illness,” says André Samson, Professor in the Department of Counselling at the University of Ottawa. “Working is the normal experience during adult life. It is our main activity, it’s how we express ourselves and are a part of society.” As well, jobs can offer a social network to lean on when times are tough. At PHAN, we believe that people with HIV or other episodic disabilities have both a right to work and a great deal to offer to our society and economy.

HIV/AIDS Support

Call us at 905-361-0523 ext. 214

ZERO DISCRIMINATION

in partnership with

NO W O FFER IN G SERVICES IN PEEL R E GI ON!

W E A R E H ERE TO HE LP Y O U WI T H Y O U R J O B S E ARCH! Employment ACTion will provide support with: >

Career planning and assessement: set a realistic career goal; discuss HIV-related concerns; review your work history; identify and address barriers to employment.

>

Benefits counselling: assistance to maintain income benefits (for part-time workers) and drug coverage; asking for an accomodation at work.

>

Resume and interview assistance: create an effective cover letter; develop resumes and references; address a lack of work experience or Canadian work history; interview coaching.

>

Job search and employment resources: arranging work-trials and mentorships; develop job search and networking skills.

>

Assistance with job placements.

>

Monthly follow-ups for problem-solving and job retention.

For more information, or to make an appointment, please contact: Saif Ahmed at 416-623-1782 ext. *8278

LOCATION OF SERVICES > 160 TRADERS BLVD EAST, UNIT 1, MISSISSAUGA, ON L4Z 3K7

Did you know that Peel HIV/AIDS Network provide Support Services to individuals living with HIV in the Peel Region? Our goal is to provide meaningful practical and emotional support and care to our clients and their families and increase their participation in programs that support their growth; to become an intrinsic part of your engagement and to build your capacity achieve your dreams. Find out how you can access: • Monthly social connections • Educational workshops • Employment counselling • One-on-one counselling • Referrals to doctors, dentist, lawyers, community and other social agencies • Accompaniment to appointments and advocacy • Assistance with filling out applications, such as the Trillium Drug Plan


PHAN Inform.

5

Positive, You’re Not Positive? Christine (Tina) Obwanga

Women’s Community Development Coordinator

through wide distribution of the campaign posters throughout the Region in public spaces, community spaces and organizations. Research shows that 33% of people living with HIV in Ontario do not know it.1 The only way to know your HIV status is by getting tested. HIV testing can lead to timely care and treatment, which can improve the health of someone living with HIV. Getting an HIV test is free; however one

Confidential Testing is NOT Anonymous Testing!

Anonymous Testing (Rapid Testing Sites)

Confidential Tests (Family Physician) • • •

Health card required Full name is used HIV test is ordered WITH disclosing persons name

• •

• •

Address is needed Optional pre/post-test counseling Record will appear in your medical chart Tests results have to be reported HIV antibody test ONLY

• • •

• • •

No health card Required Can use any pseudonym HIV test is ordered WITHOUT disclosing the persons name Address is not needed Mandatory pre/post test counseling No record will appear in your medical chart Only YOU will get the results Rapid testing and HIV antibody testing

• • •

c) Non- Nominal (nonidentifying), whereby a code will be used instead of a name and only you and the doctor know to whom the code refers to 2 Prior to doing an HIV test it is important to ensure that one understands the different types of HIV testing available, especially if you are concerned about your confidentiality and anonymity. Report on HIV/AIDS in Ontario 2008, Robert S Remis, MD, University of Toronto, June 20102 2 HIV testing what you need to know; Canadian AIDS Society

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ZERO NEW INFECTIONS

The Peel HIV/AIDS Network Health promotion team, together with volunteers, formed a committee and embarked on an initiative to develop a public awareness campaign on HIV testing. The committee chose HIV testing as it is a critical step in HIV prevention. The objective of the campaign is to increase the number of people getting tested for HIV. The committee hopes to reach people

should be prepared to receive the results. HIV testing can either be a Standard Test, which usually takes 1 to 3 weeks, or the rapid test, which takes several minutes and is done at authorized testing sites. Both these tests can be done: a) Anonymously, which are done at authorized anonymous testing sites whereby the identity or name of person is not recorded or reported, b) Nominally (name based), whereby your name appears on the test form and test results or


1 IN 3 PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV IN ONTARIO DO NOT KNOW IT.

positive,you’re not positive?


PHANpeel

160 Traders Blvd. Unit 1 Mississauga, ON

www.phan.ca info@phan.ca

Peel HIV/AIDS Network

p: (905) 361 - 0523 f: (905) 361 - 1004

KNOW YOUR STATUS. GET TESTED. www.testingpeel.phan.ca


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PHAN Inform.

HIV & Testing FAQs Q: Can I get the virus from casual contact? A: HIV is a fragile and hard virus to get. You do not get HIV from: sneezing or coughing, touching, hugging, dry kissing, public restrooms, saunas or showers, pools, sharing towels, sharing eating utensils or drinks, or being friends with a person who has HIV. Can I get HIV from unprotected oral sex? While oral sex is a low risk activity, there are a small number of documented cases of HIV transmission through oral sex with both men and women. Body fluids exchanged through sexual activity can enter cuts in the mouth and get into the bloodstream. Also, certain cells in the mucus lining of the mouth may carry HIV into the lymph nodes or bloodstream. Reduce the risk of HIV during oral sex by using a latex or polyurethane barrier such as a condom or dental dam.

ZERO NEW INFECTIONS

Can I get HIV from getting a tattoo or through body piercing? A risk of HIV transmission does exist if instruments contaminated with blood are either not sterilized or disinfected or are used inappropriately between clients. CDC recommends that single-use instruments intended to penetrate the skin be used once, then disposed of. Reusable instruments or devices that penetrate the skin and/or contact a client’s blood should be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized between clients. Q: How can I tell if I have HIV? A: The only way to tell if you have HIV is through an HIV antibody test. You cannot tell if someone has HIV/AIDS just by looking at them and there are no specific symptoms.

Epidemiology of HIV* Adapted from: AIDS Bureau, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care CANADA People living with HIV in Canada New infections in 2008

65,000 2300 – 4300

ONTARIO People living with HIV New infections in 2009

27,420 1535

LOOKING CLOSER IN ONTARIO People living with HIV 55% Men who have sex with men 19% African, Caribbean, Black (ACB) Ontarians 7% Injection Drug Users 18% Women

New Infections in 2009 45% Men who have sex with men 28% African, Caribbean, Black (ACB) Ontarians 6% Injection Drug Users 26% Women Note: Aboriginal People continue to be one of the highrisk populations for HIV, however, the data on numbers is incomplete. * Due to the fact that approximately 1 in 3 people don’t know they have HIV, these statistics are estimations based on testing and reporting.

Peel Region Anonymous Rapid Testing Centres For more information and hours, please visit: www.testingpeel.phan.ca

Q: How long should I wait to get tested? A: Since the HIV test looks for antibodies and not the actual virus, you need to wait until antibodies are made by your body. This can take anywhere from 3 to 12 weeks to show up in your blood. For an accurate result, you should wait 12 weeks after you have had a situation that put you at risk, before being tested.

Mississauga

Q: What is the window period? A: The window period is the amount of time you should wait to get an accurate result. You should wait 12 weeks after you have had a situation that put you at risk, to ensure an accurate result.

Caledon

Q: What do I do if my test comes back positive? A: When ready, you should contact your local AIDS Service Organization (ASO), such as PHAN. The ASO is a great starting point as it will be able to provide with a wide range of practical, emotional and social support including referrals to other services and health care providers.

330 Goreway Dr., Lower Level (905) 270-0587

325 Central Parkway West, Unit 1 (Central Parkway and Confederation) (905) 270-0587 2227 South Millway St., 2nd Floor (beside South Common Mall) (905) 820-3663 6975 Meadowvale Town Centre Circle (905) 270-5662

19 King St. E, 2nd Floor (905) 791-5905

Malton

Brampton 150 Central Park Dr., Ste 09 (Civic Centre)


PHAN Inform.

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From Covert to Overt…A History of Harm Reduction and HIV Adam Chalcraft

Harm Reduction Coordinator

and health care professionals. The positive impacts of needle exchange programs have made harm reduction not only an effective method of preventing the spread of HIV and Hep C, but also as a philosophy and practical method of working with addictions. The Netherlands was the first country to respond to the crisis by providing needle exchange sites where people could get unused equipment without being stigmatized. Things happened a little differently in the U.S. The government didn’t want anything to do with needle exchange, as they were in the middle of a war on drugs. In response, community activists and outreach workers began the first needle exchange programs illegally as an act of civil disobedience by going out into the community to meet users in their own neighbourhoods. Outviews

Harm reduction can be defined as “Policies and programs which attempt primarily to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of mood altering substances to individual users, their families, and communities without requiring a decrease in drug use”.3 Harm reduction is a non judgemental approach that

view substance use as a health concern and not a criminal one, and allows substance users to access services even if they continue to use. This approach does not force goals on an individual but instead allows the individual to make their own goals around their substance use while trying to make their substance use safer. Although Harm Reduction is still considered controversial, evidence based research is showing its effect in reducing the spread of HIV and Hep C as well as being the way forward in the treatment of addictions. Harm reduction has come a long way since the clandestine outreach opexrations in the 80’s, but we still have a way to go. Lane. S. D. Needle Exchange: A Brief History. 2 Sendziuk. P. (2007). Harm Reduction and HIV Prevention among Injecting Drug Users in Australia: An International Comparison. CBMH/ BCHM Volume 24:1. Pg. 113 3 Harm Reduction: A British Columbia Community Guide. 1

WANT to learn more about Drugs, Harm Reduction and Substance Use? WANT to learn more about what’s happening in your community? WANT to help make positive changes in your community? 

THEN JOIN...

THE PEEL HARM REDUCTION COMMITTEE

The PHRC is a group of service providers, service users, and community members in the Peel region dedicated to the promotion of Harm Reduction. Our goal is to educate service providers, service users, and the general public on the philosophy and application of Harm Reduction and how it can improve our community. We are also concerned with addressing policy issues that are negatively impacting our community systemically. We meet once a month and all are welcome to attend. For more information please contact: Adam Chalcraft, Harm Reduction Coordinator, Peel HIV/AIDS Network (905)361-0523 ex. 217 or adamc@phan.ca Navprit Singh YMCA (YSAP) (905)451-1400 ex.485 or Navprit.singh@ymcagta.org

ZERO NEW INFECTIONS

Harm Reduction has existed for a long time in various forms, but it was the emergence of HIV in the 1980’s that lead to its modern conception. It was noticed that HIV was spreading throughout intravenous drug using communities at an alarming rate. Because of the stigma attached to intravenous drug use, it was difficult for people to access unused injection equipment from hospitals and pharmacies, thereby forcing people to share equipment. This caused HIV to spread through shooting galleries rapidly by multiple people becoming infected at the same time. As the classical model only worked with abstinence, many substance users who were not ready or wanting to quit found themselves unable to access services. This stigma and discrimination left many weary of wanting to approach service providers

workers were arrested for these activities, but it did not stop them from continuing their work.1 Studies began to show that countries with needle exchange programs had much lower HIV infection rates than those that didn’t; therefore, needle exchanges began to be seen as a public health measure to prevent the rapid spread of HIV and Hep C.2 Canada began to fund needle exchange programs in 1989 after hearing reports of HIV prevalence in intravenous drug users in Scotland at the AIDS conference in 1988.


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PHAN Inform.

Guilty... until proven innocent Arron Maynard

Men’s Health Coordinator

ZERO DISCRIMINATION

On October 5th, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada made changes to an existing law that was established in 1998; the law looked at the situations in which a person living with HIV must, under criminal law, disclose their HIV status to a sexual partner. The previous law stated that an individual must disclose their HIV status in any c i rc u m s t a n c e that poses a

“significant risk” of serious bodily harm i.e. HIV transmission. Significant risk was left undefined by the Canadian Supreme Court, which meant that individual judges determined the definition on a case-by-case basis. The new law states that HIV status must be disclosed before having sex in all situations that pose a “realistic risk” of new infection, pointing out that almost any risk is “realistic” no matter how small. The court went on to define realistic risk as any penetrative vaginal sex without a condom and with a higher than “low” viral load. What this means is that someone living with HIV has a criminal law duty to inform all sexual partners unless they have a viral load below 1500 copies of the HIV per millilitre of blood and a condom is used every time. Although the law did not set a criteria on anal sex, it should be safe to assume that meeting at least the same criteria will be required by the law. Oral sex, viewed as “low risk” by many HIV prevention workers, has yet to be defined by the Canadian HIV disclosure laws. The

new

HIV

non-

disclosure law combines two highly effective HIV prevention techniques. It has been proven that using a condom correctly can decrease HIV transmission by 100% and that the proper intake of anti-retrovirals can dramatically decrease the likelihood of HIV transmission, so much so that many individuals are achieving an undetectable viral load status resulting in a 0%-0.4% likelihood of transmission. Although the previous law had the potential to have many tried unfairly, it also resulted in judges distinguishing the effectiveness of condom use and anti-retroviral treatment, with some courts recognizing that the use of either method did not pose a significant risk, allowing more innocent individuals to continue their lives unprosecuted. With the new nondisclosure law demanding the use of both methods, two categories of people living with HIV are created: those who will never be able to have sex without disclosure because they will never be able to achieve a “low” viral load, and those who will because they can. Many factors come into play when working to achieve a low or undetectable viral load, including biology and drug adherence. Many people living with HIV are faced

with barriers to taking the drugs as prescribed, and many simply do not have access to the drugs they need. Our Supreme Court should not be punishing people for their lack of access to stable medication. It should be noted that close to 100% of people living with HIV will disclose their status to their partners in a safe environment, so that both persons can effectively protect each other, but many individuals are not living in safe environments. For example, in a situation where a woman is faced with domestic abuse, she may choose to not reveal her status out of fear. If said woman is living with a low viral load, the law further marginalizes her. If we assume the abuser is a man, she is unlikely to have the power to ensure that he uses a condom during intercourse, thus enabling her to be fully prosecuted by the law. The HIV non-disclosure law contributes to systemic oppression of PHAs, and has assigned power to the HIV-negative person in serodiscordant relationships. In every court proceeding, it is always the word of the HIV-negative person against the word of the HIV-positive person, with the positive person ordered to prove their innocence. All too CONTINUED ON P11


PHAN Inform. Guilty...

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AIDS Action Now. (2012). http://bit.ly/QZxBa8 Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic. (2012). http://bit.ly/TzUzSM http://bit.ly/UeDOla http://bit.ly/Py0VEX

Could we have an AIDS-Free Generation?

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have a near-normal life expectancy. We also have a much better understanding of the importance of starting treatment earlier in order to achieve better health outcomes. Treatment can also help prevent the transmission of HIV. Research shows that people living with the virus who are on successful anti-retroviral therapy and have a fully suppressed (undetectable) viral load are less likely to pass HIV on to others. Consequently, treatment guidelines now recommend that people living with HIV begin their therapy as soon as they are ready after diagnosis. The importance of early detection Further good news is that there are new testing technologies and strategies permitting us to make earlier detection of HIV. That way, HIV-positive people can learn about their status, and get on treatment, much sooner. Early diagnosis is crucial to preventing HIV transmission. First, it may

VOLUNTEER FOR PHAN! All of the work done by us would not be possible without the support of our dedicated and amazing volunteers! We are always looking for individuals with an interest in HIV/ AIDS, Sexual Health and the communities we serve. Volunteers can take leadership roles on committees, assist at events or support our health promotion department. If you are interested in being a part of PHAN, please contact us and let us know! We are always interested in hearing how you can support our work! For more information or to get involved, contact: Berkha Gupta, Community Engagement Coordinator berkhag@phan.ca or (905) 361-0523 ext. 211

help identify people during the first few months after HIV infection when their viral load, and risk of transmission, is at an alltime high. Second, newly diagnosed individuals can start treatment earlier. And lastly, it is a fact that most diagnosed with HIV take active measures to reduce their risk of passing HIV on to others. New prevention approaches Although condoms and clean needles are the backbone of our prevention efforts, we are learning about additional prevention tools. We now know that the same drugs used to treat HIV can be used by HIV-negative people to help reduce their risk of an HIV infection. These new prevention approaches are promising options for HIVnegative people who are at a high risk of getting HIV. Challenges we still face Despite all these advances, achieving that generation without AIDS or without new HIV infections remains a big challenge. The hurdles we continue to face include limited financial resources applied to HIV prevention and treatment, and the many barriers faced by people living with, or at-risk of, HIV when trying to access HIV-related services. Stigma, discrimination, and poverty can make it difficult for marginalized populations to access services. And that’s why we see some of Canada’s communities more

strongly affected by the HIV epidemic. Gay men and other men who have sex with men, for example, represent a little more than half of all people in Canada living with HIV. Injection drug users represent 20 per cent of people living with HIV. People from regions where HIV is endemic (such as Africa and the Caribbean) -14 per cent. And Aboriginal people, 8 per cent. Also, people living with HIV can be criminally prosecuted for not disclosing their HIV status to their sexual partners and that can discourage them from wanting to know their status, and thereby opting out of getting tested. Where do we go from here? It’s clearer than ever that for us to “get to zero,” we must have HIV prevention, testing, treatment, care and support all working together. At CATIE, we feel that our nation’s response to the epidemic must include an “integrated approach” to HIV treatment and prevention. We will be bringing together leaders in healthcare policy and practice in September, 2013, in a national forum that will explore and debate this approach. While we are still years away from an “AIDS-free generation,” we appear to be on the right path. It only takes a look back 30 years ago at the despair we once felt in the face of this unknown disease to see how far we’ve come.

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often when serodiscordant relationships end badly, the HIV-negative partner may charge the HIV-positive partner, even if the act in question took place many years prior to the break up, making it very difficult for the HIV-positive person to prove that HIV status was disclosed. This creates a situation where the holistic approach of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ does not seem to apply. In a nutshell, if you do not meet both requirements, and engage in sex without disclosing your status, it is assumed that the sex is no longer consensual, and you will be most likely charged with aggravated sexual assault; the same charge given to a rapist. Further, you may be registered as a sex offender, and you could receive life imprisonment, even if no HIV is transmitted. And I thought the law was to protect us…

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PHANpeel

Peel HIV/AIDS Network

1. serodiscordant 2. msm 3. rapid 4. antibodies 5. harmreduction 6. art 7. idu 8. windowperiod 9. pha 10. dentaldam 11. hiv 12. coinfection 13. aids 14. viralload

How well do you know your HIV-related terminology?

PHAN Inform - Winter 2012  
PHAN Inform - Winter 2012  

World AIDS Day - Getting to Zero

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