OAN Office Closure Effective March 17, 2020

In the interest of maintaining the health and wellness of our staff team, the OAN office will be closed effective March 17, 2020. We believe it’s in the best interest of the team that we all work from home until further notice.

Please note that our work will largely continue as usual and our staff will have access to email and voicemail – so please feel free to touch base. Please watch for updates on our website (oan.red) or on social media (facebook.com/OntarioAIDSNetwork) as we continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19. 

We wish you health and wellness over the coming weeks.

 Thank you,

Shannon Thomas Ryan
Executive Director

New HIV Testing Resources

The Ontario AIDS and Hepatitis C Programs and the Ontario HIV Treatment Network are pleased to announce the creation of a web portal (www.hivtestingontario.ca) containing information on HIV testing in Ontario. The site provides information and training materials for the Ontario Ministry of Health’s HIV rapid/point-of-care and anonymous testing programs.  

The portal also contains updates to, and information about, the HIV testing window period, testing recommendations for Ontario’s priority populations, pre-natal HIV testing, Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The portal also includes important updates on self/home HIV testing in anticipation of Health Canada’s decision to approve the sale of these tests in Canada.  

If you would like to learn more about the web portal and tips on navigation, or to answer any questions about the materials on the portal, please join them for a one-hour webinar on September 17, 2020 from 1:00 – 2:00 pm.  Please register in advance for the webinar here.

Sex Now Survey!

While COVID-19 continues to impact the lives of everyone in Canada and around the world, we know that the pandemic has created unique pressures on the health and well-being of gay, bi, queer and trans men, and Two-Spirit and non-binary people (GBT2Q). Even before COVID-19, our communities have faced significant mental, social, and sexual health challenges, which have been negatively impacted by physical distancing and the pandemic’s disruption to the health services we rely on such as, testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. 

In order to better understand how the pandemic has affected GBT2Q people across Canada, the Community-Based Research Centre, in partnership with the Ontario HIV Treatment Network, is launching a national special COVID-19 edition of their Sex Now survey. They need your help and hope you can spare some time to fill out the survey and share your thoughts.

HIV Self-Testing

Health Canada is currently reviewing a licensing application for an HIV self-testing kit. If approved, HIV self-testing will likely be available in the coming months. This test will be the first, and only, licensed HIV self-test available in Canada. While the exact timing of Health Canada’s decision is not known, it is anticipated a decision will be made in the coming weeks.

HIV self-tests are currently used in several countries. Research shows that some people prefer self-testing because it is convenient and confidential. The enhanced privacy of self-testing makes it an effective way to reach first-time testers and those who may not otherwise get tested for HIV.
 
In an effort to support community readiness for a soon-to-be approved HIV self-test, the staff of the AIDS and Hepatitis C Programs have drafted a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for health care and community service providers. The FAQs provide the most current information on the HIV self-test, which is important to share in the event that community members/clients start asking you about it.
 
Download the FAQ in English or  French.  

A hand holds up a test kit

The Queer Bunch

The AIDS committee of Durham Region (ACDR) and its partners invite you to Ontario’s newest and most exciting show about, for, and by the LGBTQ2+ community. Join co-hosts Kerolos Saleib (MSM Outreach Coordinator at ACDR and founder of Middle Eastern Nights), Vivianna Santibanez, Antoine Elhashem, Ticha Albina, and Alphonso King Jr. for their new monthly show, The Queer Bunch.


Check out the premiere episode of The Queer Bunch as they explore the question: ‘What’s up with racism and the police?’ with special guests Ruth Cameron (Executive Director of The AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo & Area) and Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam. 

Go here to follow them on Facebook or here to watch the first episode on Youtube.

Join Our Board of Directors

The OAN is recruiting new Board Members and we’re accepting applications for three Director positions. We are seeking committed Board members to strategically lead the organization and help us meet our mandate. Serving on the Board is an extraordinary opportunity for someone who is passionate about Ontario’s HIV sector.

In accordance with the provisions of our by-laws, a majority of the Board must be people who are living with HIV (PLWHIV) who are willing to self-identify as living with HIV and to disclose their status in this application.  Of the three new Directors, one must be from the Western region and be a person living with HIV. 

In addition to promoting PLWHIV leadership, the OAN is committed to ensuring the Board reflects the community of people living with HIV in Ontario to the greatest extent possible and supporting regional representation and accountability. We are also seeking graduates of PLWHIV capacity building programs such as the Positive Leadership Development Institute, Ethno-racial Treatment Support Network, Turning to One Another, and others.

Go here to review the requirements and to complete the online application by Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 5:00 pm. Following a review of applications, we’ll then arrange interviews with candidates in September. Successful nominees will then be presented at our Annual Meeting on October 5, 2020 for election.

Thank you for taking the time to help shape our organization!

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The OAN Outpost

The OAN Outpost is distributed to our email list of OAN Member and Affiliate agencies, Board members and friends of the OAN.

The Newsletter contains actionable items and events that offer an opportunity for our readers to engage with other organizations and initiatives.

To be included in the OAN Newsletter, items must be:

  • Relevant to the friends/Members of the Ontario AIDS Network
  • Timely: within the last 2 weeks or part of a new story within the last 2 weeks
  • Informative – this usually means it links elsewhere to an existing or shared resource – especially if it re-directs to information on our website
  • Promotion of a special event

Ultimately, the curation of items for distribution falls to the Manager of Communications. To submit an item for inclusion in the next OAN Newsletter, email info@oan.red