Changing the narrative: Why HIV prevention work in Canada needs to embrace HIV treatment

Original Article:

In 2014, UNAIDS proposed an ambitious set of targets for the global scale-up of HIV treatment.1 This approach to the HIV response is based on research showing that early, life-long HIV treatment can dramatically improve the health of people living with HIV and can also dramatically reduce HIV transmission. The new UNAIDS strategy emphasizes that the tremendous potential of HIV treatment is not being realized, not even in developed countries like Canada. This must change to bring the HIV epidemic under control.

In this article we will explore the crucial role HIV prevention work can play in the UNAIDS call for a “new narrative on HIV treatment.”

Not surprisingly, UNAIDS also calls for urgent efforts to scale-up core prevention efforts for the key populations that are disproportionately impacted by HIV. Key populations identified by UNAIDS include people who inject drugs, MSM, female sex workers, and transgender people. However, in addition to this scale-up, achieving the UNAIDS targets will require a coordinated effort to ensure that people living with and at risk for HIV are informed, engaged and linked between different services within the HIV response, including prevention services. HIV prevention workers have an important role to play in developing such a coordinated response.

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