HIV is a complex and challenging virus that thrives because of stigma and misinformation.
Innovation in HIV treatment over the last thirty years has made it possible to live, love, and thrive with HIV. And British Columbia has been a leader in making this possible.
However, as the epidemic and the needs of people living with HIV continue to change, we need to keep innovating and finding new solutions, and challenging inaccurate ideas about HIV itself.
Today in British Columbia, people living with HIV are being denied access to the latest and most effective treatments.
Long acting injectable treatments that allow for those living with HIV to receive one injection every one or two months – instead of taking pills every day — are available everywhere in Canada except for British Columbia.
Why is this an urgent issue?
First of all, it’s fundamentally unfair that BC is the only province in Canada where people living with HIV don’t have access to long acting injectable treatments.
And it’s the most vulnerable communities that are the most impacted by this lack of equity.
Many people living with HIV don’t want to conceal their status — and they shouldn’t have to. But access to long acting injectable treatments is an essential step to providing truly discreet, compassionate, and effective HIV care.
HIV Therapy Today and the Challenge:
British Columbia has been a long-standing leader in the advancement of HIV treatment here in Canada and around the globe. Treatment has progressed from early regimens that involved multiple doses and multiple pills per day to single tablets. These innovations were made here in British Columbia, with the BC Centre of Excellence in HIV/AIDS being the first to demonstrate the success of highly active antiretroviral therapy.
A survey of nearly 2,400 people with HIV asked them about issues related to daily dosing of medicines. The people surveyed lived in North and South America, Europe, South Africa, and East Asia.
Researchers found that a significant proportion of people reported life-altering challenges with pill-based HIV treatments, including:
HIV Treatment Now:
Since 2020, there have been treatment options that make HIV even more manageable though long acting injectable treatment that can be administered every one or two months” by a physician instead of daily oral regimens.
We know that many people in our communities want long acting injectable treatment options for HIV. Indigenous people, people living with HIV since childhood, and refugees and newcomers from Sub-Saharan Africa continue to ask about when this important innovation will be available here.
Data from a 2022 survey of gay, bisexual, trans, and queer men and Two-Spirit and non-binary people – show that 47.3% of people would prefer injections every two months compared to taking daily pills.
Long acting injectable treatments that allow for those living with HIV to receive one injection every one or two months” – instead of taking pills every day — are available in every province except for British Columbia.
The long acting injectable HIV treatments available now are just the beginning. Over time, we expect that treatment may require just two injections per year, and that these long acting injections will also be an option to help prevent HIV.
What This Means:
We continue to hear from our communities that there is a need for injectable HIV treatment options. What this looks like today differs from community to community that we serve:
How You Can Help:
We believe that everyone living with HIV in British Columbia deserves access to the most innovative and effective treatments available. That's why we're launching an advocacy campaign to make long-acting injectable HIV treatment widely accessible to those who need it.
Who we are:
As one of the first AIDS service organizations in Canada, AIDS Vancouver has long been involved in ensuring all people living with HIV have information about, and access to, the newest developments in HIV treatment and care. We are grateful that today, these developments include injectable treatment options, and look forward to seeing this choice available in our province, too.
Together with our community partners, Afro-Canadian Positive Network, Community-Based Research Centre, Health Initiative for Men, Vancouver Island Persons Living With HIV/AIDS Society, and YouthCO, AIDS Vancouver is looking to make injectable HIV treatment available to all people living with HIV in BC as soon as possible.
Long Acting Injectable HIV Treatments Available in Canada
- Cabenuva (injectable cabotegravir + rilpivirine)
- A new drug for HIV—lenacapavir (Sunlenca)—approved in Canada
- Facebook Posts
- Opinion: BC needs to step up and provide access to long-acting HIV medications
- Global News: AIDS Vancouver Wants BC to Cover Injectable HIV Treatment
- Afro-Canadian Positive Network
- Community-Based Research Centre
- Health Initiative for Men
- McLaren Housing
- Vancouver Island Persons Living With HIV/AIDS Society
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