May 15, 2018
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Public Health Agency of Canada
Infections transmitted through sexual contact or contact with infected blood, known as sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI), are preventable and treatable. Still, these infections—including HIV, hepatitis C, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis—remain a significant public health concern in Canada. While Canada has made great progress in addressing STBBI in the last three decades, there is still work to do to reach the global goal of eliminating these infections as a public health threat by 2030.
Today, Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories. Michael McLeod, on behalf of the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health announced an investment of $1,000,000 over 5 years from the HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund to support the work of SMASH (Strength, Masculinities, and Sexual Health).
SMASH will use the arts to focus on HIV/Hepatitis C/STBBI prevention among male youth in the NWT; train peer leaders to hold school based workshops to educate and encourage youth to learn their STBBI status; and, enhance collaboration with other sectors to develop a multi-year strategic and sustainability plan to maintain and expand SMASH.
Approximately 2,500 individuals are infected with HIV every year, joining the estimated 65,000 people who are living with HIV in Canada. Of those, one in five is unaware of their infection. Similarly, an estimated 44% of the more than 245,000 Canadians living with hepatitis C are unaware of their infection and may not be accessing treatment. As well, the number of new cases of sexually transmitted infections significantly increased between 2006 and 2015.
“Through the Community Action Fund, the Government of Canada is making a significant investment to support excellence in community programming to help Canadians with, or at greatest risk of acquiring, HIV, hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections. Through projects like those announced in the Northwest Territories today, we want to prevent new infections, reduce stigma and discrimination, and increase access to testing and treatment throughout Canada.”
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health
“Though preventable and treatable, sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections are serious infections that continue to pose a public health risk for Canadians. Raising the profile of these diseases, which disproportionately impact Canadians who suffer the greatest health inequities, is a key priority for me. The Public Health Agency of Canada will continue to support initiatives at the local level, particularly in areas where there is the greatest burden of disease.”
Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
“The exceptional work that FOXY has done in the past is a testament to their organization, and I know that SMASH will only compound the positive impact they have had in the Northwest Territories by engaging and empowering young men to make healthy and positive choices in their lives.”
Michael V. McLeod, Member of Parliament, Northwest Territories
“SMASH teams engage with young men about their abilities to take charge of their own health, and encourage them to make decisions in the interest of personal and public health; looking out for themselves, their partners, and their communities. This generous contribution represents a sustainable investment in the well-being of our Northern youth. We’re very grateful to be able to continue this rewarding and empowering work throughout the Northwest Territories well into the future.”
Candice Lys, Executive Director, FOXY/SMASH
The Community Action Fund is investing $132 million over 5 years to support community-based initiatives that have the potential to make the greatest impact in slowing the spread of STBBI, including HIV and hepatitis C.
Gay and bisexual men, Indigenous peoples, people who use or inject drugs, and people living in or recently released from correctional facilities are some of the groups most affected by HIV and other STBBI. The Community Action Fund aims to reduce new infections among these at-risk populations. In October 2015, United Nations Member States adopted the UNAIDS 2016-2021 Strategy, which guides international activities and establishes various interim targets for 2020. These targets include the 90-90-90 global treatment targets to ensure that, by 2020, 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status; 90% of people diagnosed with HIV receive antiretroviral therapy; and 90% of people living with HIV, and who are on treatment, achieve viral suppression.
Based on available data in Canada from 2016, an estimated 80% of HIV-infected people have been diagnosed, 76% of those diagnosed are on treatment, and 89% of those on treatment have suppressed viral loads. Canada has also endorsed the World Health Organization’s global sector strategies for viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections and their respective elimination targets by 2030.