As part of the Provincial STOP HIV/AIDS initiative, Northern Health has completed a process to award $1.59 million to eight (8) agencies in communities across the north, plus 23 First Nations communities. The funding will build on previous work that has been established which includes a strong network of services across the north.
"BC is a world leader in HIV prevention, testing and treatment and it is thanks to this work with our partners that what was once a life-threatening disease is now a manageable illness," said Health Minister Terry Lake. "It is great news that this funding will help to expand the work of the STOP HIV/AIDS program and provide HIV education, awareness and supports throughout the north."
The funding provided to support community agencies and First Nations health organizations will support services that will reach residents in eight (8) northern communities, and twenty-three (23) First Nations communities.
"We are fortunate to have a Government who supports our made-in-BC Treatment as Prevention strategy”, said Dr. Julio Montaner director, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. “STOP HIV/AIDS is an important initiative of the TasP strategy, which reaches out, offers HIV testing, treatment and sustainment in care."
Community-based services will be provided in:
- Prince George, Smithers and Dawson Creek where previously contracted service providers, Positive Living North and Central Interior Native Health Society will continue or expand their services;
- Southside Health & Wellness Centre will provide testing, treatment and outreach in the Burns lake area and in surrounding First Nations communities;
- The Fort Nelson Aboriginal Friendship Society will distribute and recover harm reduction supplies, and will deliver prevention education in and around Fort Nelson;
- The Gitxsan Health Society will distribute and recover harm reduction supplies, promote and provide testing, and support those living with HIV or HCV in and around Hazleton;
- Old Massett Village Council–Health Society on Haida Gwaii will integrate efforts towards HCV within their HIV outreach and education to bring more services to co-infected people;
- Quesnel Tillicum Friendship Society and Quesnel Shelter and Support Society will collaborate to distribute and recover harm reduction supplies and provide HIV and HCV testing in Quesnel and to First Nations communities in the area.
- The Northern BC First Nations HIV / AIDS Coalition will distribute its Healthy Sexuality kits and deliver train-the-trainer sessions in First Nations communities;
- Additional funds will support agencies in four other communities to plan and implement a response to HIV and HCV: Fort St. John, Fort St. James, Terrace and Prince Rupert. It is expected that new services will be operating by April 1, 2017, reaching another 4 municipalities as well as First Nations communities.
The new, and continuing services, will be linked to NH services through a Specialized Support Team and Primary Care Home alignment, both of which will make services available to people in every community in the North.
"Supporting these partners will enable us to reach many Northerners with these important services that help prevent HIV or HCV transmission and to help people get, and stay well," said Ciro Panessa, Director of Regional Chronic Diseases. "This is a great milestone and we will continue to look for ways to improve and expand the reach of live-saving services with our community partners."
A call for proposals released in May across the North resulted in eleven (11) proposals being received, including eight (8) from communities where such services were not previously contracted by Northern Health.
Tony Goulet, Executive Director at Quesnel Tillicum Society
"The funding we will receive from Northern Health will help us to reach the most vulnerable people in Quesnel and in communities around us so we can provide supports that are proven to save lives. We are excited about partnering with Quesnel Shelter and Support Society and others in this important work."
Jennifer Sampare, Acting Executive Health Director for Gitxsan Health Society
"This funding lets us hire an experienced educator to reach all Gitxsan communities, so we can raise awareness of HIV and hepatitis C, and encourage more people to get help to prevent transmitting and get tested. We can also help people living with HIV or hepatitis to stay well and live a long life."
Linda Ashdown, Executive Director at Fort Nelson Aboriginal Friendship Society
"The stigma attached to HIV/AIDS keeps many people from getting what they need to stay well. This contract will help us to reach out to First Nations, Aboriginal and non-aboriginal community members to provide education, and to give and recover supplies so they can be safer."
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