Mark Wainberg: a big name in the fight against HIV has left us

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Mark Wainberg
a big name in the fight against HIV has left us
May 18, 2017

Mark WainbergThe world-renowned scientist from Montreal, Mark Wainberg, died in April at the age of 71.

Since the early 1980s, he was actively involved in the fight against HIV/Aids and he made it his fight. He not only devoted his scientific and medical career to it, but also became one of the pioneers of the defence of the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and of the most affected communities, at a time when the subject was taboo and unpopular.

Dr Wainberg is known in particular for discovering the anti-viral medication, 3TC, in 1989. This was one of the very first effective molecules against HIV. The 3TC helped to change the course of the illness and is still widely used in tri-therapies, thanks to which the infection has become a chronic illness.

Mark Wainberg is also famous for his multiple contributions regarding the virus’ resistance to medicines. With his team, he worked to enhance understanding of the mechanisms and genetic mutations of the virus, and to find ways to counter them.

Dr. Wainberg, who was close to the Quebec anti-AIDS milieu and the Farha Foundation in particular, stated in 2000, during an interview with the McGill Reporter: “It is incumbent upon us all to be AIDS activists”. A fervent militant for access for all to medication, he is one of the people who enabled marginalized populations and poor countries, especially in Africa, to benefit from the results of research on HIV/AIDS.

Source : Radio-Canada
Yanick Villedieu – April 4, 2017

ABC OF HIV : Primary infection

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ABC OF HIVPrimary infection
May 18, 2017

This is the period immediately after the virus enters the body. At this stage, the virus multiplies quickly and transmission risks are highest.

This first phase can come with flu-like symptoms such as fever, throat pain, muscular pain, fatigue, swollen lymph-nodes and skin eruptions.

These symptoms, which disappear after a few weeks, are not present in all infected persons. Sometimes the primary infection stage goes by unnoticed. It is during this period that the immune system produces antibodies to defend itself against the virus.

Source : L’essentiel du VIH/sida, Portail VIH/sida du Québec, Benoît Lemire

Get involved in the Fqsida board of directors

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Get involved in the Fqsida board of directors
May 18, 2017

Fqsida has taken on a new momentum, particularly since Baya Touré joined its management in February and following our recent merger with the Farha Foundation.

Over the next few years, we plan to carry out many activities aimed at increasing our visibility and momentum, so we need a strong, diversified, motivated, and committed board of directors.

This could be the time for you to make a difference! Many opportunities are open to you: Together

˃ Representative of people living with HIV
• for Montreal (1 year)
• for other areas (1 or 2 years)
˃ Representative of Montreal (2 years)
˃ Expert: with a particular expertise or affiliation (funding, events, development, communication etc.)

Interested? We invite you to send us, before the 29th of May 2017, a brief letter of introduction describing your career and your motivation. Address it to Mrs. Mrs. Baya Touré, General Director, at direction@fqsida.org.

Fqsida and the Farha Foundation join forces against HIV/AIDS

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Fqsida and the Farha Foundation join forces against HIV/AIDS
May 18, 2017
SOLIDAIRES
We announced it last April 4th: the Fondation québécoise du sida and the Fondation Farha merged on the 1st of April under the banner of the Fondation québécoise du sida to better join forces against HIV/AIDS!

“This is excellent news for all the men and women fighting against HIV/AIDS in Quebec!” said Sylvain Laflamme, chairman of the board of Fqsida. “This merger comes at the right time and enables us to promote our joint vision: Together let’s build a world without AIDS or HIV”.

The Farha Foundation spearheads the fight against HIV/AIDS. Over the past 25 years, it has distributed close to 10 million dollars to some 76 organizations in Quebec that provide care and services to people living with HIV/AIDS, along with prevention and education programmes.

We are proud of this alliance and happy to renew, in this way, our commitment to the communities of Quebec. The combined experience of our two foundations will contribute to an even better response to the many issues in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Pre-hiring questionnaires: an illegal but common practice!

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PRE-HIRING QUESTIONNAIRES: AN ILLEGAL BUT COMMON PRACTICE! 
February 15, 2017

Today you can be refused a job after stating in a pre-hiring questionnaire that you are living with HIV or another chronic ailment, even though you do not represent any risk for those around you.

The pratiqueillegale.com web campaign launched by Fqsida in May last highlighted the use, particularly in the Quebec health network, of these discriminatory questionnaires that are clearly condemned by the law.

The online petition calling for the elimination of these illegal questionnaires in the network’s establishments ended on the 31st of January. The signatures were sent to COCQ-SIDA so as to support its efforts to finally end this hiring discrimination and simply have the law respected.

Federal funding : What future for the fight against HIV?

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FEDERAL FUNDING FOR THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV
February 15, 2017

The Fqsida member organizations affected by the federal cuts, together with their Canadian counterparts, are pursuing their efforts to have their funding maintained and to obtain an in-depth review of the way Ottawa funds the fight against HIV.

At a time when ending the pandemic seems technically possible, the Federal Government’s lack of vision is to be deplored.

In this highly precarious context, your support for the fight against HIV in Quebec makes an even greater difference. Your one-time donations are also very precious to us! Thank you!

GEIPSI: WHAT FUTURE FOR THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV?

Yvon Couillard is the general director of GEIPSI, a Montreal organization working with a highly marginalized clientele: people living with HIV/Aids or the Hepatitis C virus and who present a profile of homelessness, drug abuse and, sometimes, mental illness. The interview he gave us casts a worrying light on the future of the fight against HIV in Canada.
Federal funding represents 45% of the budget of GEIPSI. For Yvon, the priority is clear: the day centre must be maintained. However, the loss of federal funding would mean eliminating one of the two practitioner posts, reduced services and shorter opening hours.

For now Yvon is waiting for a response to his request for a transitional budget, which, when granted, enables the organizations concerned to keep receiving funding for a year, after which their directors have to present their strategic funding plan. The cuts planned by Ottawa are in no way called into question and the organizations are asked to find for themselves the money they need for their activities!

The situation is particularly worrying since Ottawa does not seem to have any vision on the fight against HIV and Hepatitis C. In Quebec, for example, organizations working with injectable drug users (who are among the key population groups), homeless persons or women (other than sex workers) are mostly threatened by the federal cuts. There does not seem to be any strategy to replace the services threatened by the cuts!

Yvon knows he can count on the mobilization of the community movement for the fight against HIV to obtain federal funding for 2018-2022 for the threatened organizations. However, he does not hide the concern of his team and his beneficiaries.

 

Member organizations threatened by federal funding cuts

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SEVEN OF FQSIDA’S SEVENTEEN MENBER ORGANIZATIONS THREATENED BY FEDERAL FUNDING CUTS
November 30, 2016

Canadian government blows hot and cold on financing the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Justin Trudeau certainly blew hot when he announced in May a 20% increase in Canada’s contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, then confirmed it in September.

However, the enthusiasm of the Canadian HIV/AIDS community did not last long! From 29 September, just two weeks after the Global Fund’s replenishment conference in Montreal, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) blew freezing air on organizations fighting HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and other blood-borne and sexually transmitted infections. As a result of new funding rules at the PHAC, some organizations had their funding purely and simply scrapped. Many more suffered cuts representing up to 70% of their budgets.

Quebecois organizations, including 7 members of the Fondation québécoise du sida (Fqsida) have taken a direct hit from these measures, which jeopardize the existence of many of them. They are now denouncing a two-phased process of consultation and allocation of funds that lacked transparency from its inception and is out of sync with realities on the ground. They are urging the PHAC and Ottawa to suspend the process, maintain the status quo based on previous funding, for a year, starting before 31 March 2017, and do an in-depth review of the way it collaborates with and funds communities.

Centre des R.O.S.É.S. is one of the 7 organizations threatened by federal funding cuts

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CENTRE DES R.O.S.É.S. IS ONE OF THE SEVEN ORGANIZATIONS THREATENED BY FEDERAL FUNDING CUTS
November 30, 2016

visuel_angOne of the main actors in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the Centre des R.O.S.É.S. strives to prevent the transmission of HIV and provide support to people living with HIV in the huge territory.

The new rules for the allocation of funds by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) stripped the Centre of its eligibility for any federal funding, and the Centre found out in early October that its budget would be cut by 64%. This will evidently have disastrous consequences for the organization, which will be obliged to cut back drastically on its activities. Its general director, Brigitte Laliberté, says it will have to close its offices in summer and reduce its opening times for the rest of the year. Layoffs and scrapping prevention activities in the remotest areas are also not to be ruled out. People living with HIV will necessarily be affected, especially the most isolated ones since services and travel are very expensive in such a vast territory.

The directors of the affected organizations are revolted by the lack of clarity and coherence of the new funding-allocation process. While it was still a draft, many groups had denounced the fact that it took insufficient account of their specific realities. Its implementation has confirmed its limits. For example, the application form leaves little space for describing the project concerned. However, the reason given for refusing to finance the Centre des R.O.S. É.S. was precisely a lack of precision in the description. How is precision possible when the space allocated for it is so small? Moreover, the project was considered insufficiently innovative and inclusive, whereas these criteria had not been initially mentioned. Can they then become criteria for exclusion?

Pending possible responses to these questions and perhaps a reassessment of the applications, the Centre des R.O.S. É.S. prepares to weather the storm, like the six other members of Fqsida and the many community groups throughout Canada that have been hit by the federal cuts.

Now, more than ever, your donations and your support make a difference.

Objective 90-90-90: An ambitious target

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OBJECTIVE 90-90-90: AN AMBITIOUS TARGET
September 8, 2016

At the Durban conference, many actors in the fight against HIV/Aids denounced an enormous gap between the promises to end Aids and the reality on the ground, with funding insufficient and health systems on the brink of implosion.

Funding continues to be the main challenge facing the attainment of the 90-90-90 objective by the year 2020: 90% of persons with HIV knowing their status; 90% of persons tested receiving lasting antiretroviral treatment; 90% of persons under treatment having an undetectable viral load.

Today, 51% of persons with HIV do not know that they have the virus. Three out of four have no access to treatment, and the rate is 9 out of 10 among children. We have all the tools we need to close the gap, but the challenge continues to be huge because of the cost of medication, infrastructure costs, and the human and medical resources needed. Without real political will, we will not be able to attain the 90-90-90 target.

HIV: The tools are there, the funding needs to follow

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HIV: THE TOOLS ARE THERE, THE FUNDING NEEDS TO FOLLOW
September 8, 2016

Summer is coming to an end. A beautiful sun-filled summer that we hope you’ve been able to enjoy to the fullest. To mark the return to school and work, we offer you an opportunity to catch up on the latest on HIV for the summer season, with a selection of news that caught our attention, mainly from the 21st International Conference on HIV/AIDS, held in Durban, South Africa, from the 18th to the 23rd of July 2016.

coupleIt’s confirmed. People living with HIV whose viral load is undetectable cannot transmit the virus to their partners.
An american study published on the 12th of July in the Journal of the American Medical Association monitored 1,166 serodiscordant couples, a third of them same sex, for 16 months and found that there was no HIV transmission between partners when the viral load of the HIV-positive partner could not be detected. The medical treatment used to reduce the viral load can thus, without the shadow of a doubt, also be considered a very effective prevention method since it blocks the transmission of the virus. The relevance of this approach, known as Treatment as Prevention (TasP), has thus been confirmed once again, since it is a significant contributor to the decline of the epidemic.

PrEP “on demand”: A promising approach
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) continues to demonstrate its effectiveness and each new study shows that it considerably reduces the risk of HIV transmission. The Truvada medication, which prevents the virus from multiplying, was, moreover, approved by Health Canada as a preventive treatment. A Canadian study confirmed that, when taken continuously, it has a 98% rate of success in preventing infection of persons newly exposed to the risk of transmission.

PrEP “on demand”, a one-off prophylactic treatment prescribed during bouts of high risk of exposure to transmission, occupied a place of prominence in the debates at the Durban conference. A first study had established its effectiveness at 86%. A new French study, conducted from November 2014 to 2016 with 362 individuals, yielded results that were even more spectacular. Only one person – who, in fact, had interrupted the PrEP – was infected.

When well managed, PrEP “on demand” represents a promising approach for populations that are highly vulnerable to the risk of HIV transmission, have very high prevalence rates, and among whom the transmission chain seems difficult to break. Not only does it have fewer secondary effects than the continuous treatment formula, but it, moreover, leads to substantial savings which could encourage its development among the biggest pools of high-risk populations.

Objective 90-90-90: An ambitious target
At the Durban conference, many actors in the fight against HIV/Aids denounced an enormous gap between the promises to end Aids and the reality on the ground, with funding insufficient and health systems on the brink of implosion.

Funding continues to be the main challenge facing the attainment of the 90-90-90 objective by the year 2020: 90% of persons with HIV knowing their status; 90% of persons tested receiving lasting antiretroviral treatment; 90% of persons under treatment having an undetectable viral load.

Today, 51% of persons with HIV do not know that they have the virus. Three out of four have no access to treatment, and the rate is 9 out of 10 among children. We have all the tools we need to close the gap, but the challenge continues to be huge because of the cost of medication, infrastructure costs, and the human and medical resources needed. Without real political will, we will not be able to attain the 90-90-90 target.

Sources: La Presse, Ici Radio-Canada, Seronet