The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Canada is predicted to come to an end by 2025 with self-testing kits approval
CANFAR2025 campaign launches to support priorities that will lead to end of the epidemic in next 5 years
TORONTO, November 3, 2020 – A major breakthrough in the fight to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Canada, it is now possible to purchase and self-administer a test for HIV in one’s home that will allow people to safely discover their status in as little as one minute. Approval of self-testing by Health Canada marks a landmark moment for HIV care and prevention, which also means it is now possible to predict the HIV epidemic in our country will end within the next five years.
In Canada, an estimated 65,000 people live with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and 14 per cent of those are unaware of their status. Self-testing is seen as a critical tool in HIV prevention because it allows people to safely learn their status in the privacy of their own home and seek out treatment or prevention services as appropriate.
“We have launched the CANFAR2025 campaign which is focused on education, awareness and fundraising, in order to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic within the next 5 years. In addition to supporting self-testing, several other priorities need to be addressed to meet our goal, among them establishing a new HIV/AIDS clinic based on the Dean Street model from London, UK; setting up Centres of Excellence for HIV/AIDS treatment in each Canadian province; continuing to ensure equal access to testing and care for all Canadians and maintaining youth awareness to slow down infection and fight stigma. By working with established community partners as well as our network of national Youth Ambassadors, we remain committed to making the next five years the ‘final five years’ in our battle,” says Alex Filiatrault, CEO, CANFAR.
Until now, HIV self-testing kits have not been approved for sale, or available to Canadians who need them, despite the fact that they are available in more than 30 other countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France. In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) named self-test HIV kits as a key tool in the quest to eradicate the virus. Following an extensive study led by Dr. Sean Rourke and St. Michael’s Hospital, funded in part by CANFAR, Health Canada approved self-testing on November 2, 2020.
“Canada remains alone among G7 countries with HIV/AIDS infection rates that are going up – not down. Our commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the next 5 years requires a focus on both research and its implementation. As a result, CANFAR recognizes the urgent need for ending stigma and increasing prevention, testing, and linkage to care. Self-testing is a critical tool in this effort, providing all Canadians with an overdue opportunity to know their status, and seek prevention treatment or care if needed,” says Andrew Pringle, Chairman, the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR).
Funds raised through CANFAR2025 will allow, among other priorities, for community-based organizations across Canada to support access to and distribution of 60,000 self-test kits with peer navigation services free of charge. This initiative is made possible through funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in addition to CANFAR.
To take the HIV self-test, a person pricks their finger, takes a single drop of blood with the materials provided in the kit, follows the simple procedure instructions provided in the package, and reads their results. The process can take as little as one minute.
CANFAR’s mission is to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Canada by funding innovative research, and awareness programs focused on increasing prevention, increasing testing, improving treatment and care, and ending HIV/AIDS stigma. Over its 30-year history, CANFAR has invested more than $22 million and awarded more than 500 grants across Canada in research addressing all aspects of HIV/AIDS. Visit the 2025 Campaign page to learn more and donate to the CANFAR2025 campaign.