HIV Specialist - June 2021 - 9

Program Led by St. Michael's Hospital
Will Reach the Undiagnosed with the
Goal of Ending Canada's HIV Epidemic
TORONTO-A new research program
is distributing 50,000 free HIV selftesting
kits across Canada to reach
people who are undiagnosed and
get them connected to care, with
the goal of identifying factors that
affect access to testing and care
and ultimately, ending Canada's HIV
epidemic.
The I'm Ready research program,
which launched June 2 with an online
event featuring Canada's Chief Public
Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, is
accessible through a website and
mobile app, which users can access
anonymously. Participants will receive
an HIV self-testing kit-which is proven
to be fast and highly effective-and
have access to a telehealth-style peer
navigation service to link them to
more information about prevention
and care.
Researchers will evaluate in
real-time how well the program
is able to reach and support
people in accessing testing, care
and treatment. They will use this
information to adapt the program to
ensure there are low-barrier options
for access to testing. An estimated
8,000 Canadians live with HIV and
are unaware of their status. HIV
disproportionately impacts men
who have sex with men, African,
Caribbean and other Black people,
Indigenous Peoples and people who
use and inject drugs.
" We have come so far in the
global fight against HIV/AIDS and we
now have all the tools that we need
to end HIV, " said Dr. Sean B. Rourke,
SHUTTERSTOCK/ JHVE PHOTO
the study's principal investigator
and a scientist at the MAP Centre for
Urban Health Solutions. " Our program
uses technology to reach and serve
people who are marginalized because
of systemic racism, residential
schools and the legacy of ongoing
colonization, and stigma and
discrimination in various forms-
including gender-based and against
The I'm Ready research program
is funded by the Canadian Institutes
of Health Research (CIHR), the St.
Michael's Hospital Foundation and
the Canadian Foundation for AIDS
Research (CANFAR)'s Strategic
Initiatives, and it launches in
collaboration with the Canadian HIV/
AIDS Black, African & Caribbean
Network (CHABAC), Women's Health
LGBTQ2+ communities. We designed
I'm Ready to create access and choice
for testing and care in ways that can
work for these populations in their
communities. "
Once a participant has their selftest
kit, they will follow the steps
in the app and use the test kit's
instructions to take the self-test. Once
complete, they will anonymously
record their results in the app and
receive access to more information
about treating or preventing HIV.
in Women's Hands (WHIWH) and the
Community-Based Research Centre
(CBRC), among other community
partners across Canada.
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 care or prevention
as needed. In Canada, an estimated
65,000 people live with HIV, the virus
that causes AIDS, and 13 percent of
those are unaware of their status.
WWW.AAHIVM.ORG HIVSPECIALIST JUNE 2021 9
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HIV Specialist - June 2021

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