Taking place across Canada November 22-28
OTTAWA, November 18, 2021 – Building off our past success of HIV Testing Days/Week, the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS) and steering committee are joining forces for the second edition of the International Testing Week which was initiated by Coalition PLUS. This is a unique opportunity for thousands of Canadians to increase their sexual health knowledge and hopefully get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) as part of the initiative. Organized by CAS in collaboration with community-based organizations, like the Quebec AIDS Coalition and local health authorities across Canada, this event aims to showcase testing technologies, increase Canadians’ knowledge of sexual health best practices, reduce stigma, while reducing barriers to regular sexual health testing says CAS Executive Director Gary Lacasse. “This year, testing is the key, we want to reengage Canadians to ensure that their sexual health is front and centre in their overall health strategies and ensure that our governments make sexual health testing an essential service, even during pandemics’’.
Canada has seen a significant increase in the number of new HIV and other STI cases in recent years. Between 2014 and 2018, there was a 25.5% increase in the number of new HIV infections in Canada, according to data from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Twenty percent of Canadians living with HIV are unaware of their HIV-positive status, and a major priority of this initiative is to reach the people who are disproportionately affected by HIV and other STBBIs and who have never been tested for HIV and other STBBI. The theme #Testingisthekey, reflects the importance of testing to determine one’s sexual health status and to be linked to care if diagnosed with an STBBI. Reducing barriers and stigma to testing have always been the driving forces behind this initiative and are more important than ever amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has closed or reduced the capacity of most testing facilities across Canada and probably contributed to a rise in HIV and other STBBIs across Canada.
For more than 30 years, Gilead Sciences Canada, Inc. has been a leading innovator in the field of HIV, driving advances in treatment, prevention, testing and linkage to care. “At Gilead, we are firmly committed to seeking a future without HIV,” states Melissa Koomey, Vice President and General Manager at Gilead Canada. “That’s why we are collaborating with community organizations like the Canadian AIDS Society to highlight the need and importance of knowing one’s HIV status through screening and subsequent linkage to care.”
Considering that testing is the key, the community sector is in our opinion, a relevant solution to accentuate and diversify the testing offerings in Canada, thus making it possible to increase the response to the demand for testing and to reach certain populations resistant to testing in the healthcare network.
Are governments ready to consider the community sector as being able to be a key player in increasing testing for HIV and other STBBIs in Canada and to act to make this possible? Until they answer us, we invite you to take advantage of International Testing Week to discover the various services offered by the HIV / AIDS community in Canada.
Information on the testing site locations is available at www.internationaltestingweek.ca and will continue to be updated leading up to testing week.
For media enquiries:
Gary Lacasse, Executive Director Canadian AIDS Society
613. 230.3580, ext. 118 / firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Canadian AIDS Society: The Canadian AIDS Society (CAS) represents our members at the national level, guided by the voice of people living with HIV/AIDS. We are a movement built at the grassroots level and we are proud of those roots. We are devoted to the idea of people working together with a certain knowledge that the stakes have never been higher and the humble notion that we can work together to dramatically change the outcomes of HIV in Canada.