World AIDS Day: Barriers to Testing

We spoke with Alexandre Dumont Blais, Executive Director of RÉZO Santé in Montréal, about the need for better access to testing to help end the hiv epidemic in canada.

In July to September this year, the team at RÉZO experienced incredible demand with their pop-up testing site, La Zone Rose, right in the heart of Montréal’s LGBTQ+ village. Alexandre Dumont Blais talks about the success of this free and low-barrier testing strategy and other key takeaways about the importance of testing for stopping new HIV cases…

The below has been translated from its original French.

“Testing is very important because it’s really a winning strategy for knowing your status, protecting your partners, and finding out what’s going on with your health so you can get treatment if necessary.”

“Frequent testing gives you a powerful tool so you can take fast action, both for yourself and for your partners, the people around you.”

“At RÉZO, with our team, from last July through to the end of September, we installed La Zone Rose in the heart of the village in Montréal. In nearly two months, we met with thousands of people, and we did 228 tests, meaning full testing for all STBBIs and HIV. It was an opportunity to promote free testing, no appointments, open all week and on weekends right in the street. We were also able to send messages to our communities about the importance of thinking about testing.”

“People can live good lives with HIV in 2023. There are many resources to support people who test positive for HIV and I think that in 2023 we no longer need to be afraid of HIV and other STBBIs.”

“Our communities have developed a resilience in recent years by developing regular testing frequencies, by taking charge of their health, by talking with their partners. I personally think these are ways for our communities to eliminate the obstacles to testing.”