CANFAR'S BOLD ACTIONS
our PLAN TO END THE HIV EPIDEMIC IN CANADA BY THE END OF 2025
Working with leaders and community partners across the country, we will not only significantly reduce case numbers in Canada; we will help keep them down, for good.
We are committing to three priorities:
Increase national awareness among key populations, through strategic campaigns in collaboration with community-based organizations from coast-to-coast.
Increase access to HIV testing and care, by funding new ways to use technology and community-based models to meet people where they are and in ways they can feel safe to get tested and connected to care and treatment.
Fund implementation research, focused on addressing health issues faced by Indigenous peoples, African, Caribbean and Black people, racialized women, and people who use substances and inject drugs.
Canada saw a 24.9% increase of new HIV diagnoses in 2022 over 2021, with Saskatchewan and Manitoba leading the country’s new diagnosis rate at 19.0 and 13.0 per 100,000 – compared to the national average of 4.7. This rise in new cases has not been seen in over a decade.
To deliver on its priorities, CANFAR is partnering with CATIE to develop national awareness campaigns to support the communities most impacted by HIV in Canada today – Indigenous peoples, African, Caribbean and Black people, racialized women, and people who use substances and inject drugs. Community campaign consultations will begin this Spring. CANFAR will additionally fund several implementation projects in the coming years.
Further, CANFAR is investing in programs for harm reduction and women-centered healthcare in Vancouver and Toronto, respectively. These investments are among several other initiatives CANFAR has helped fund, including I-AM.Health and I’m Ready to Know – both of which provide free HIV self-test kits delivered directly to homes or for pickup at more than 400 locations across Canada – as well as the CANFAR Express Testing Laboratory at the new HQ Toronto.
Developed in collaboration with a task force that included guidance from select experts from institutions like the National Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infections Laboratory (Public Health Agency of Canada), the National HIV and Retrovirology Laboratories (Public Health Agency of Canada), CATIE – Canada’s source for HIV and Hepatitis C Information, the Dr. Peter Centre, HQ Toronto, Communities, Alliances & Networks (CAAN), Freddie, and COCQ-SIDA, CANFAR’s new strategic plan highlights the importance of swift and urgent attention to Canada’s growing HIV epidemic.
The HIV epidemic in Canada has been fueled in large part by health inequalities, the reduction of testing services during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lack of comprehensive youth sexual health education, the toxic drug crisis, and a lack of culturally-appropriate testing and care.
OUR BOLD ACTION PLAN
We know that as we work towards ending the HIV epidemic, there will at first be higher case numbers—because the process will involve diagnosing those who are living with HIV but aren’t yet aware of their status. Once they are on treatment and virally suppressed, there will be a substantial and lasting reduction in new HIV cases.
To put that process in motion, we will direct our investments and efforts where they are needed most: closing gaps in awareness and access to care. Working with our partners across Canada, we will foster coordination and a shared sense of urgency. Our strategy will consist of three main priorities. Click the + sign to learn more about each priority.
Many people in Canada are not coming forward for testing, prevention, or care because of stigma. For key populations and communities, there are added barriers, including structural racism, lack of trust in the healthcare system, unequal geographic distribution of health services, and lack of culturally appropriate or affirming care. To reach those communities, CANFAR will partner with CATIE, Canada’s source for HIV and hepatitis C information, to create national awareness campaigns. These campaigns will tackle stigma by tailoring messages to the communities most impacted by HIV—Indigenous and Black people, racialized women, and people who use substances and inject drugs.
CANFAR will work directly with members of these communities to develop and tailor the messages and their communication. Community members and people with lived experience will have a leading role and voice at every stage, from conception to launch. The campaigns will foreground information about PrEP and PEP (pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, i.e., medicines that can prevent people from acquiring HIV). CANFAR will mobilize its business networks in communications, media, and media relations for their support.
Our outreach and education efforts will also include supporting the continued development and growth of the Sexfluent.ca initiative for youth, and expanding our current work with CATIE to empower people from multiple communities to access HIV prevention, testing, and care.
In addition to stigma, the communities most affected by HIV face other barriers. There are very few sites in Canada where they can be connected with, and stay engaged in, the culturally appropriate care they need for their sexual health and wellbeing.
CANFAR is already a leader in bringing new testing options to people in Canada, and we have supported new ways of reaching people, including the I’m Ready to Know program and Our Healthbox.
CANFAR will support innovations for access to HIV testing and prevention that engage people in their communities, in culturally appropriate ways. We will invest in local and targeted models and approaches that reach the undiagnosed and those most in need of support.
Our work will include:
- Implementing Our Healthbox in 10 underserved communities where there is a high burden of HIV, substance use (opioid and fentanyl), and mental health challenges.
- Launching a mobile health clinic to support underserved communities where there is a high burden of HIV, substance use, and mental health challenges.
- Funding new health care clinics focused on gender-based care for racialized communities to help those left behind by the “one-size-fits-all” and “colourblind” model of care that is prevalent in Canada.
- Funding one-year “Test, Treat, and Connect” demonstration studies to evaluate the rollout of the latest innovations in medical diagnostic technology (HIV self-testing and point-of-care screening with molecular PCR confirmatory testing machines). These studies will be crucial in ensuring that people who are undiagnosed with HIV receive culturally appropriate testing, treatment and care. We will also evaluate methods of prevention for those who test negative. Interventions will include peer health navigators (people with lived experience) and front-line community-based agencies that can reach undiagnosed people who have been underserved and disconnected from the health care system.
As a leader in funding HIV research in Canada, CANFAR has been a pioneer in engaging the business community to support cutting-edge research to address the HIV epidemic. We have advanced HIV knowledge and science, and now we are determined to fill the gender and race gaps in HIV research. We will focus on implementation research to address the issues faced by Indigenous peoples, Africa, Caribbean and Black people, racialized women, and people who use substances and inject drugs.
During each of our funding cycles, we solicit and help advance ideas for innovative projects and pragmatic solutions from university researchers, community-based organizations, and partnerships between the two. CANFAR will continue to fund all types of research, including basic science that expands our range of knowledge about treatment and prevention and that opens up possibilities for larger breakthroughs. However, we will prioritize implementation research projects that help ensure treatment, care and support are accessible and culturally appropriate to members of key communities.
We will also prioritize projects led by researchers who are members of these communities, to address structural inequities in health funding that have held back both their work and all studies that directly address their communities’ needs.
CANFAR will also recruit for, and support, the involvement of members of affected communities in the Scientific Advisory Committee review process. By doing so, we will ensure that our investments in research projects will advance these communities’ own priorities.
BEING BOLD AND ACTING WITH URGENCY AS A LEADER & A CATALYST WILL BE THE ONLY WAY TO ACHIEVE OUR GOALS OF REACHING THE 95-95-95 TARGETS SET OUT BY UNAIDS.
We will be unwavering in our commitment to get there – working with our partners and communities from all key populations affected by HIV.
For media inquiries or to arrange an interview about how CANFAR’s new strategic plan will contribute to ending Canada’s HIV epidemic, please contact:
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The Brand is Female