Opinion: Truly universal care could help end AIDS

The Canadian Association for HIV Research conference, taking place in Montreal, brings together some of the top researchers from across Canada. It comes at a time when we have effective treatments for HIV, transforming it from a death sentence to a manageable condition. Still, there remain glaring gaps in access to treatment, including for people who use drugs.

Several Canadian communities are seeing spikes in HIV due to increased opioid and injection drug use, from rural Saskatchewan to Ottawa. The United Nations has called for increased international investment to address the continued spread of HIV among people who use drugs.

A peer-reviewed study by the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) conducted among clients of the Dr. Peter Centre who are living with HIV and use drugs, shows an integrated health-care approach — including food, counselling, art-based therapy and harm-reduction services — can provide pathways to HIV care. The HIV care facility in Vancouver is a place where clients can create regular routines in a welcoming environment. Individuals may seek services to meet their most basic needs first, such as twice-daily meal programs offered seven days a week, and then gradually take further steps towards HIV care and treatment.

Lianping Ti and Alexandra Collins write

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