It’s confirmed. People living with HIV whose viral load is undetectable cannot transmit the virus to their partners

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IT’S CONFIRMED. PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV WHOSE VIRAL LOAD IS UNDETECTABLE CANNOT TRANSMIT THE VIRUS TO THEIR PARTNERS
September 8, 2016

coupleAn 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.

Is HIV a reportable disease?

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IS HIV A REPORTABLE DISEASE?
February 16, 2016

Some believe that people living with HIV must disclose their viral status to their employers, to their dentists etc. because, they claim, HIV/AIDS is a reportable disease. How true is this?

For Health Canada, a reportable disease is a « disease considered sufficiently important to make it compulsory to declare any cases observed to the health authorities ». It can be a contagious disease that was thought to have disappeared or to have been under control, or a disease caused by exposure to chemicals or parasites, such as cholera, measles or cancer caused by asbestos.

This list is proposed to the provinces which decide, for each illness, the information to be reported to Health Canada and the type of monitoring to be carried out. Quebec has thus established its own list. These are illnesses liable to cause epidemics if nothing is done to keep them in check and recognized as significant threats to public health. The name of a person infected with a reportable disease, his or her contact details, date of birth and health-insurance number, along with details of the disease’s progress have to be reported so as to prevent it from spreading.

In Québec, HIV/AIDS is not a reportable illness, because it is not a contagious disease requiring immediate intervention. The only circumstance in which HIV/AIDS is reportable is when the person concerned has received or given blood or tissues.
Each new case of HIV/AIDS is declared, but without naming the patient. The information reported can only be used for statistical purposes.

Disclosing one’s HIV status therefore has nothing to do with the idea of reportability.

HIV status is confidential. A person living with HIV is not obliged to disclose it to anyone, except in two precise situations: when (s)he takes out an insurance policy; before a sexual relationship that entails a “realistic possibility” of HIV transmission. Moreover, under no circumstances may a third party disclose the viral status of another person without his/her consent.

For more information: cocqsida.com

Coalition PLUS says STOP medical apartheid!

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COALITION PLUS SAYS STOP MEDICAL APARTHEID!
February 16, 2016

Combler ecartBarely 41% of persons living with HIV worldwide receive an antiretroviral treatment today and only 32% of children infected with the virus have access to these vital medicinal drugs. Globally, nine persons out of 10 live in regions of the world where they do not have access to these precious molecules from the time they are diagnosed HIV-positive.

In the poorest countries most patients who are diagnosed are turned away from medical care. There are not enough drugs to go around so they are told to return when they develop AIDS, even if that could be too late. In most of the wealthy countries, people living with HIV have access to the care and treatment they need, irrespective of how far the infection has progressed.

This is a new form of medical apartheid at the global level. These inequalities in access to health are not only revolting. They are also an aberration given the scientific knowledge available today. It should be recalled, here, that someone diagnosed and treated effectively no longer transmits the virus thanks to the preventive effect of the treatment. Without access to treatment, there is no end to AIDS.

Working continuously in the field to correct this injustice, the militants of Coalition PLUS have decided to send a clear message to their governments: No more excuses. Time is running out. Every person living with HIV must be given treatment urgently. Millions of lives depend on it.

Thank you for joining us in this combat. Your donations enable us to act.

Visit coalitionplus.org

Image from the December 1st, 2014 UNAIDS campaign.

Awareness campaign: « Today, I’m thinking positively »

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AWARENESS CAMPAIGN: « TODAY, I’M THINKING POSITIVELY »
Aujourd’hui, j’pense positif

November 26, 2015

MaternitéOn the occasion of World AIDS Day, COCQ-SIDA and its affiliates launch an appeal for a positive attitude so as to end discrimination against persons living with HIV.
Even though scientific and therapeutic advances have reduced the infectious nature of HIV and the risks of transmission of the virus, people living with HIV continue to be subjected to stigmatisation and discrimination.

TravailWork, neighbourly relations, alternative health care, friendship, love, sport and maternity are the 7 themes of this awareness campaign which places emphasis above all on « positiveness » so as to debunk the myths surrounding HIV, which are still deep-rooted.

Visit pensepositif.org (in french)

Much still needs to be done to match our ambitions!

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MUCH STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE TO MATCH OUR AMBITIONS!
November 26, 2015

As we highlight the 28th World AIDS Day, the international community continues to work towards achieving the aim of UNAIDS’ strategy, « Objective zero: Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination, Zero AIDS-related deaths”. As 2016 dawns, the portrait of the battle against AIDS/HIV is full of hope.

We are seeing a net decline of the epidemic: the number of new cases has been falling for about 15 years and, over the past 10 years, so has the number of AIDS-related deaths.

These results are attributable to a large extent on improved access to treatment. Additionally, anti-retroviral therapy, which today has fewer side effects, is now synonymous with better health and a closer-to-normal life expectancy for people living with HIV. Moreover, when used correctly, treatment reduces the viral load until it becomes undetectable, which can reduce the risk of HIV transmission by 90%. Thus, the progress registered in treatment and prevention, as well as in human rights, opens up real prospects.

However, ending the epidemic by 2030 , as per the objectives of UNAIDS, will still require a great deal of work, mainly with regard to making testing more accessible, enabling the 22 million untested persons living with HIV to be treated, and sustaining and intensifying prevention efforts. This is because a number of challenges still need to be overcome. These include the cost of medicines, which is still too high, taboos linked to HIV and the resulting stigmatisation and discrimination, socio-economic inequalities, the criminalization of homosexuality, which persist in certain countries, and the criminalization of people living with HIV.

The Mutual Support Group for HIV-Positive, Homeless and Drug-Dependent Persons (GEIPSI)

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THE MUTUAL SUPPORT GROUP FOR HIV-POSITIVE,
HOMELESS AND DRUG-DEPENDENT PERSONS (GEIPSI)
May 13th, 2015

geipsiSince 1992, the Montreal organisation GEIPSI has been working with highly marginalised persons living with HIV/Aids or Hepatitis C who also have a profile of homelessness, drug-dependence and, sometimes, mental illness.

GEIPSI is a group for mutual aid, support and references. Our philosophy of intervention is founded on a relationship of trust and the conviction that everyone has the potential to act on his/her daily reality. Empathy and respect guide our actions and we work at many levels with participants so as to get them to become aware of their power to act.

GEIPSI fronts a gradual holistic approach that respects each person’s individual progression so as to foster:
— participants’ taking control of their health
— safe drug use habits
— safe sex practices
— social reinsertion
— empowerment

GEIPSI’s mandate also includes defending and promoting the interests and rights of these persons who face multiple odds that result in their social exclusion.
Some of the services it provides include a friendly day centre for taking “break from the street”, psychosocial services for personalised care, educational workshops known as “5 to 7” to learn about and develop safe habits and skills on a daily basis, community activities and dinners to break isolation, as well as Les Sans-Mots journal, which offers an opportunity to take part in a common project. The work of our little team enables us, in this way, to support our participants, minimise the negative impact of the problems they experience and, sometimes, help them to find a new lease on life.
Yvon Couillard, Director

GEIPSI stands for Groupe d’entraide à l’intention des personnes séropositives, itinérantes et toxicomanes.

 

Bill 20 and its implications for the most vulnerable patients

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BILL 20 AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR THE MOST VULNERABLE PATIENTS
May 13th, 2015

Projet loi 20The HIV community in Québec will be paying particular attention to news about Bill 20 in the coming weeks.
This bill, whose objective is to improve access to the health system, is mainly about setting patient quotas for family doctors. It requires them to see a minimum number of patients or have their pay reduced by up to 30%.

According to the model envisaged in the bill, a person who is HIV-positive counts as two patients due to the complexity of his/her medical care. However, for people involved in the struggle against HIV in Quebec, this coefficient does not reflect the medical reality of people who, in addition to living with HIV, grapple with other health problems such as Hepatitis C, dependence on drugs, medication or alcohol, or mental problems.

Many fear that Bill 20 actually reduces access to health care and leads to some forms of discrimination that shut out the most vulnerable patients. In a letter to the Minister of Health and Social Services, published in La Presse on 2 April 2015, Thérèse Richer, executive director of MIELS-Québec, aptly sums up the feelings of a good number of family doctors, health care staff, stakeholders and patients: “The focus should be on real life which, in actual practice, does not fit into systematic mathematical calculations.”

ACS/AMO Congo : Access to treatment remains a priority

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ACS/AMO CONGO:
ACCESS TO TREATMENT REMAINS A PRIORITY

May 13th, 2015

Photo: © Coalition PLUS Fqsida board member Hélène Legaré with the staff of ACS/AMO Congo’s “BON BERGER “ integrated polyclinic in Kinshasa (DRC), which provides some 2,300 persons living with HIV with anti-retroviral treatment, and medical and psycho-social care.

Photo: © Coalition PLUS
Fqsida board member Hélène Legaré with the staff of ACS/AMO Congo’s “BON BERGER “ integrated polyclinic in Kinshasa (DRC), which provides some 2,300 persons living with HIV with anti-retroviral treatment, and medical and psycho-social care.

The number of HIV-positive persons currently living in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is estimated at one million. Fewer than 100,000 of them receive anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment to fight the infection. This is a human, economic and health catastrophe when one knows that proper treatment enables a person to achieve quality of life and to be healthy enough to work on a daily basis and take care of his or her family, while considerably reducing the risk of transmission of the virus during sexual contact or from mother to child.
Historically, most people who are on ARVs in the DRC received them as a result of the mobilisation of community structures, with the ACS/AMO Congo foremost among them. Coalition PLUS has understood this and has been supporting this association since 2009 by financing the missions of independent auditors tasked with certifying it. Such a level of financial certification, very rare internationally, not only provides our organisation and its donors with a guarantee that the funds it manages are used rigorously, it also enables the member associations of Coalition PLUS to earn credibility with international donors in the fight against the epidemic.

Food insecurity and HIV/AIDS closely linked

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FOOD INSECURITY AND HIV/AIDS CLOSELY LINKED
February 18th, 2015

In a Quebec study* based on a sample of 319 people living with HIV, 58% of respondents reported living with food insecurity. That’s seven times higher than the provincial rate.

Whether it’s due to financial difficulty, physical limitations, or exclusion resulting from stigmatization, households affected by HIV can have a hard time maintaining a healthy, balanced diet (due to access to food, quality and diversity of food, etc.).

Food security on its own affects both physical and mental health, and can have a negative impact on quality of life. In addition, according to some data, by aggravating situations of vulnerability and inequality, a lack of food security can play a role in increasing the risk of HIV transmission, limit access to treatment and care, and is also associated with negative health outcomes for individuals on antiretroviral therapy.

While the negative relationship between food insecurity and HIV is easy to spot, it remains difficult to say whether food insecurity is a cause or effect of HIV.

* “Impact of Food Security on Health Outcomes in People Living with HIV/AIDS Across Canada” Community research carried out in 2013 in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec

Source (French only): jesuisseropo.org

 

A rooming house for HIV-positive people over 50

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Maison d’Hérelle
A ROOMING HOUSE FOR HIV-POSITIVE PEOPLE OVER 50
February 18th, 2015

The Maison d’Hérelle is celebrating its 25th birthday with a gift for people living with HIV/AIDS: they are opening new rooms specifically for people over 50 years old who are living with HIV.

When the Maison d’Hérelle opened its doors on May 8, 1990, its primary purpose was to offer temporary housing for respite and palliative care. With the arrival of more advanced treatments though, the face of the epidemic has changed: HIV has become a chronic disease. People living with HIV can now expect to have nearly normal life expectancies, which has resulted in a much higher proportion of people 50 and over living with the disease.

Yet services for seniors have not adapted to this new reality. That’s what inspired the Maison d’Hérelle to take action, creating a permanent housing facility for aging but independent people living with HIV. The new space can accommodate up to eight tenants, who will receive community support to assist with activities of daily living.

For more information on this new resource, contact Jean-Marc, care coordinator, at 514-844-4874, ext. 102.
Visit maisondherelle.org