AIDS sup­port group to get $1M over next 5 years

Montreal Gazette - - CITY - CHAR­LIE FIDELMAN

An es­ti­mated 65,000 peo­ple are liv­ing with HIV in Canada. Of those, one in five is un­aware of their in­fec­tion. Although sex­u­ally transmitted dis­eases are pre­ventable, rates con­tinue to rise, mainly in men who have sex with men.

To help those at great­est risk of ac­quir­ing HIV, hep­ati­tis C and other sex­u­ally transmitted and blood-borne in­fec­tions, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment an­nounced a grant on Thurs­day of $1,050,000 over five years to AIDS Com­mu­nity Care Mon­treal (ACCM), a vol­un­teer­based or­ga­ni­za­tion of­fer­ing sup­port and out­reach.

ACCM works to in­crease dis­ease preven­tion by pro­mot­ing risk reduction and be­hav­iour-based change in peo­ple liv­ing with sex­u­ally transmitted and blood-borne in­fec­tions in Mon­treal, as well as raise awareness among those at risk of such in­fec­tions.

The group’s ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude a text-based help line called Sex­tEd for at-risk youth, in­clud­ing queer and trans, which got nearly 60,000 in­quiries this year. The group plans to in­crease out­reach to Mon­tre­alarea gay men, hold work­shops on treat­ment-ad­her­ence among men who have sex with men, and cre­ate pro­grams for peo­ple 50 and over liv­ing with AIDS.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2016 es­ti­mates re­leased by the Pub­lic Health Agency of Canada, 65,040 Cana­di­ans are liv­ing with AIDS and the pro­por­tion of those un­aware of they are in­fected is 20 per cent, or 12,820 peo­ple. About 2,500 in­di­vid­u­als are in­fected with HIV ev­ery year.

Sim­i­larly, an es­ti­mated 44 per cent of the more than 245,000 Cana­di­ans liv­ing with hep­ati­tis C are un­aware of their in­fec­tion and not ac­cess­ing treat­ment.

Sex­u­ally transmitted and blood­borne in­fec­tions — in­clud­ing HIV, hep­ati­tis C, chlamy­dia, gon­or­rhea and syphilis — re­main a sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic health con­cern in Canada.

These dis­eases are pre­ventable and treat­able, An­thony House­fa­ther, mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Mount-Royal, said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day. “I am proud to see that the gov­ern­ment is sup­port­ing the im­por­tant work be­ing done by AIDS Com­mu­nity Care Mon­treal,” he said.

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