Alliance to receive federal HIV funding boost includes two Vancouver queer male health organizations

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      Two Vancouver-based health organizations are part of a national alliance that will receive increased federal funding to address HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) in Canada.

      Prior to World AIDS Day (December 1) on November 29, federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas announced that the Canadian government will provide $7.1 million over five years to the Advance Community Alliance, the Canadian community alliance for queer male health, through the HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund.

      The funding will support improved access to sexual-infection prevention, testing, and treatment, including better access to services and the promotion of new HIV prevention options.

      The alliance includes two Vancouver organizations—Health Initiative for Men and the Community-Based Research Centre for Gay Men's Health (CBRC), which has shifted to adopt a national mandate—in addition to MAX Ottawa, AIDS Committee of Toronto, and Montreal's REZO.

      "Gay, bisexual, trans, Two-Spirit, and queer men in Canada remain heavily impacted by HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, as well as mental health issues including depression, problematic substance use, and suicide," Advance Community Alliance director Michael Kwag stated in a news release. "Developing evidence-based, community-led interventions with stakeholders across the health care system is critical to reducing barriers to essential services for our communities, including HIV testing and treatment, pre-exposure prophylaxis, and mental health programs."

      In 2017, there were 2,402 new cases of HIV in Canada, with about half of those cases occurring among men who have sex with men. Other groups most affected by HIV and STIs include Indigenous peoples, drug users, and those released from correctional facilities.

      On Thursday (December 6) amid Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week, an event at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre will address the launch of the second phase of the Prison Needle Exchange Program to be launched on January 1 in federal institutions.

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