International Testing Week event to take place locally at Avenue B with RECAP

Saint John, November 23, 2021 – Building off past success of the Canadian AIDS Society’s (CAS) Testing Week initiative, RECAP and Avenue B will be hosting a sexually transmitted and blood-borne infection (STBBI) testing event at 62 Waterloo Street on Thursday, Nov. 25 from 10a.m. to 2p.m. The goal of the event is to effectively target groups disproportionately affected by the virus, said Julie Dingwell, Executive Director of Avenue B.

International Testing Week aims to reduce the stigma often associated with sexual health testing. “Building on the success of last year’s initiative we have joined forces with Coalition PLUS, “This year, testing is the key, we want to re-engage 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. We are so pleased to collaborate with RECAP and Avenue B to bring new testing technologies to New Brunswick”, says Gary Lacasse, Executive Director of CAS.

The theme for Testing Week is TESTING IS THE KEY. One in 5 Canadians living with HIV are unaware that they are HIV-positive, which makes the possibility of transmitting the virus to others much more likely. The only way to know your HIV status for certain is to get tested. The sooner you know your status the sooner you can be linked to care, which is even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic to achieve positive health outcomes.

Over 70,000 people in Canada are currently living with HIV, and according to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s 2018 HIV Surveillance Report, there has been a 25.5% increase in the number of new HIV infections in Canada between 2014 and 2018. National HIV Testing Week was created in response to these rising rates in Canada. A major priority is to reach the undiagnosed – Canadians who are disproportionately affected by HIV and other STBBIs and/or Canadians who have never been tested for HIV and other STBBIs.

During this event, rapid HIV tests and dry bloodspot (DBS) testing will be performed for participants. Pre- and post-test counselling will be provided to all participants to help determine their risk. In the event a participant tests positive for HIV or another STBBI, RECAP will be able to form a long-term relationship with the individual for treatment and symptom management and work together with Avenue B toward ensuring their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

“Participants can also drop by the RECAP health clinic to provide a urine specimen for gonorrhea and chlamydia testing in addition to the STBBI testing at Avenue B. For those that cannot make the event, RECAP also offers a mail-out DBS program where testing can be requested through the RECAP website ( Through this program, a kit and instructions will be provided through the mail, and participants can send the completed test kit back for processing”, says Jennifer Splane, Nurse Practitioner at RECAP.

This collaborative, evidence-informed approach will sustain the benefits of the International Testing Week initiative, ensure information will be accessible to as many people as possible, and increase testing year-round so more Canadians access treatment when needed.

More information about national Testing Week can be found at .


For media enquiries:

Julie Dingwell, Executive Director

Avenue B  506-652-2437

Jennifer Splane/Paige Feltmate, Nurse Practitioner

RECAP Health Clinic   506-657-5699

Gary Lacasse, Executive Director

Canadian AIDS Society  613-230-3580 x118

Canadian AIDS Society joining forces with Coalition PLUS for International Testing Week

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 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 /

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.

CAS Announces expansion to national HIV Testing Week for 2020

CAS Announces expansion to national HIV Testing Week for 2020

National HIV Testing Day was first launched in Canada on June 27th, 2018 in order to highlight the importance of testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI), dismantle the stigma surrounding HIV and encourage Canadians to take charge of their sexual health by getting tested. The first national HIV Testing Day proved to be successful, testing over 800 Canadians for HIV and other STBBI. 

Following an even more successful Testing Day in 2019, with testing numbers well exceeding the first year, CAS and the rest of the Testing Day steering committee are pleased to announce the expansion of the campaign to a national HIV Testing Week. With Testing Week, we can grow our capacity for encouraging Canadians to get tested by upsizing the amount of participating organizations, creating more testing events and have more people who will #KnowTheirStatus!

Canadian AIDS Society’s response to Government of Canada’s STBBI Action Plan

Canadian AIDS Society’s response to Government of Canada’s STBBI Action Plan

On July 17, 2019, the Government of Canada published an action plan entitled, “Accelerating our response: Government of Canada five-year action plan on sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections”. While this Action Plan is a much needed step in the right direction toward addressing the drastically increasing rates of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI) in Canada, there are some significant gaps of concern.

Firstly, the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS) would like to express support for the priorities and over-arching themes of the Action Plan. The seven broad Action Plan priorities are:

  1. Moving towards truth and reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis People
  2. Stigma and discrimination
  3. Community innovation – Putting a priority on prevention
  4. Reaching the undiagnosed – Increasing access to STBBI testing
  5. Providing prevention, treatment and care to populations that receive health services or coverage of health care benefits from the federal government
  6. Leveraging existing knowledge and targeting future research
  7. Measuring impact – Monitoring and reporting on trends and results

CAS recognises that these priority areas will be crucially important to reducing rates of HIV in Canada, and is committed to working toward these priorities, though we would like to highlight the lack of priorities in the Action Plan that are specific to the care and support of people living with HIV.

CAS was disappointed to see that the Action Plan does not contain specific action items or any specific domestic objectives. Outside of the 2030 global targets, it is unclear what Canada will be trying to achieve under the Action Plan. Equally concerning is that how Canada will create positive change remains unidentified. CAS fails to understand how an action plan without clear action items will be effective and believes that the Action Plan must be more specific in both its objectives and measurable steps towards addressing HIV in Canada.

We are concerned by the timelines discussed in the Action Plan and interpret them as a lack of urgency towards addressing HIV in Canada. Despite previously endorsing global targets for HIV (90-90-90) aimed at 2020, this Canadian Action Plan focuses on 2030, stating that the objective of the plan is to “[a]ccelerate prevention, diagnosis and treatment to reduce the health impacts of sexually transmitted-and blood-borne infections (STBBI) in Canada by 2030”. Not only is the plan ignoring Canada’s limited success in meeting the 2020 goals, but this “five-year action plan” also fails to present any objectives that are less than ten years away.

The Action Plan states, “The Government of Canada is committed to playing its role in the development, regulatory approval and deployment of POCT and additional novel technologies(3).” CAS finds that this statement is inaccurate given the federal government’s lack of support for national community-based initiatives such as national HIV Testing Day, which brought POCT to Atlantic Canada where it had not been previously available. There is also a lack of emphasis on tried and true prevention strategies such as condoms.

In terms of populations to be prioritized, the Action Plan states, “Reaching the undiagnosed is key to improving the health of people living with STBBI and reducing transmission. The Government of Canada will continue to support programs and initiatives that promote access to and uptake of STBBI testing.” As of the time of writing this position statement, preliminary data from the 2019 national HIV Testing Day demonstrates that 35% of the people who were tested as part of Testing Day had never been tested before, and 67% had not been tested within the past year. This initiative has clearly been successful in reaching populations who had not previously been tested, yet the federal government has declined to support it financially since the first national HIV Testing Day in 2018, stating that testing is under the jurisdiction of provinces and territories. All provinces and territories have endorsed the Action Plan. Over and beyond the role of the province and territories, PHAC has a responsibility to increase access to testing across Canada recognizing the diversity of populations and the importance of adapting strategies. Providing funding support, recognition, human resource support, and engagement is one step towards this responsibility that cannot be assigned.

While CAS appreciates the Government of Canada’s recognition that there are current gaps in STBBI surveillance data, all that is mentioned in the Action Plan is that “federal, provincial and territorial governments have made a commitment to work together to strengthen STBBI surveillance as a priority.” The integrity of accurate surveillance data is an immediate and important need, and concrete steps must be developed and detailed to the public beyond a vague commitment to prioritize filling in these gaps.

Finally, we are concerned that inadequate funding will continue to affect the work of HIV organizations over the next ten years and challenge Canada’s ability to reach international targets, just as it has over the past ten years. The Action Plan identifies that “federal STBBI investments of $81.5 million annually remain foundational to our work”. This Action Plan fails to recognise Recommendation 20 from the most recent report from the Standing Committee on Health:

Recommendation 20: That the Government of Canada increase total funding for the Federal Initiative to Address HIV/AIDS in Canada to $100 million annually, as recommended in the 2003 report of the Standing Committee on Health entitled Strengthening the Canadian Strategy on HIV/AIDS.

CAS supports the recommended funding increase to $100 million annually, specifically allocated to HIV, rather than $81.5 million for all STBBI (which is not a guaranteed sum yearly). Without funding, organizations that build capacity for care, treatment, support, testing, research and capacity building will be restricted in the delivery of their services.

In summary, while it is a good sign that the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of a plan to address the rising rates of HIV and other STBBI in Canada, the steps in their Action Plan are vague and do not provide any details about how these steps will be implemented. We recommend that the Government of Canada take the following steps in order to address the gaps in the Action Plan:

  1. Follow the Standing Committee on Health’s recommendation to increase HIV funding to $100 million annually (separately from funding for other STBBI)
  2. Identify clear national goals that provide accountability at the end of the five-year plan
  3. Explicitly describe the measurable steps needed to achieve these national goals
  4. Financially support the national HIV Testing Day (as part of a Sexual Health Awareness Week) moving forward, as well as to financially support bringing POCT and other testing technologies to communities that do not have access to them
  5. Identify specific steps to improve surveillance data for HIV and other STBBI
  6. Restore funding to the 40 organizations who lost funding from the redesign of PHAC’s HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund in 2016 (which directly led to a historic increase in HIV cases in Canada).
  7. Ensuring a harmonization of harm reduction practices within the STBBI scope