The federal government announced $17.9 million for the distribution of HIV self-testing kits and other methods of HIV testing for populations most affected by HIV across the country.
According to the government, there are nearly 63,000 people currently living with HIV in Canada; of which 1 and 10 individuals remain undiagnosed. The government says it is making the investment to support progress toward ending HIV as a public health concern by 2030.
Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s Minister of Health made the announcement on Monday at AIDS 2022, the 24th International AIDS Conference. Duclos says $8 million from the funding will also go acquiring HIV self-test kids and supporting community-based organizations, including Indigenous organizations, to make testing more available among the populations they serve.
“HIV self-test kits offer a safe, reliable, and confidential way for people to screen for HIV infection while significantly reducing the barriers to seeking care often created by stigma and discrimination,” said the government in a news release.
Duclos also announced an investment of an additional $9.9 million to expand community-based testing initiatives in northern, remote, or isolated (NRI) communities through the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML). The NML will also support training, verification and ongoing quality oversight for these community-based testing programs. The government says NRI will be able to purchase diagnostic test for screening, confirmatory testing and ongoing monitoring in the community.
The federal government says the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and First Nations Health Authority will receive $1.2 million from funding to build on previous initiatives by identifying testing potential for other infectious disease, including sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, respiratory syncytial and influenza.
“Making tests more available by getting them directly to people helps break the barriers that too often prevent people from seeking testing, treatment, and care. While this is an important step that will impact many people affected by HIV, we know there is more work to do. Together, let us re-engage, follow the science and carve the path towards a world without HIV-AIDS,” said Duclos in a statement.