Positive Plus One: A research study of relationships where one partner is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative
As HIV rates have stabilized, HIV-positive individuals are living longer lives. More and more people today are in relationships where only one of the two people has HIV (an HIV-serodiscordant relationship). While there has been research on living with HIV, far less is known about the issues faced by HIV-serodiscordant couples. Researchers from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, in collaboration with physicians and AIDS Service organizations from across the country, are therefore undertaking a national study of people in serodiscordant relationships.
This study, named Positive Plus One, is unique, because we want to hear from both the HIV-positive and HIV-negative partner in a serodiscordant relationship. Each partner will complete the survey on their own, and not in the presence of each other. However, if only one of the two partners wants to participate, they can also be involved. If a person has recently (in the last 2 years) been in a serodiscordant relationship, they can also participate, but we will not ask them to invite their partner.
Positive Plus One is a mixed-methods study, meaning it includes both a survey, and an in-depth interview. Anyone who takes the survey can also volunteer for the interview. From the survey, we will obtain a broad understanding of serodiscordant couples’ relationships, as well as the characteristics of serodiscordant couples across Canada. From the interview, we will learn about how these relationships unfolded over time, and provide people with the opportunity to share their experience of living in a serodiscordant relationship.
Participants will receive a $20 gift card for participation in the survey, and an additional $40 gift card if they are selected for the qualitative interview.
In order to participate, you must meet the following five (5) criteria:
1) They are currently in a relationship where one partner is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative and the relationship has lasted 3 months or longer, OR they were in one in the past 2 years, 2) They live in Canada, and lived in Canada during at least part of the relationship, 3) They are at least 18 years old, 4) They speak either English or French, 5) If they are HIV-positive, they have disclosed their status to their HIV-negative partner.
For our last Community Spotlight of the year, we want to highlight the courage of Veronica Masters.
Veronica bravely accepted the interview request from CBC to talk about something she — and a number of other HCV-infected individuals — are facing as one of the main barriers to treatment: the cost of treatment. However, they are not only battling the cost of the treatment, they are struggling against access to the treatment:
The cost of a revolutionary medical treatment for hepatitis C is so high that only those with moderate liver disease will have the medicine provided under provincial pharmacare programs. (Carolyn Dunn, CBC News)
In the interview, Veronica details her struggles with the illness, and how she feels about not being “sick-enough” to qualify for funding for treatment.
Our HCV Nurse and General Manager, Shawn Sharma, was also in the interview and spoke on the struggle from the health care provider’s perspective:
“You have to see the patients through the months and they’re just always actively questioning you, ‘Why are you not wanting to treat me?'” Sharma says. “That in and of itself is difficult to kind of go home with every day as a health-care professional.” (CBC News)
The goal of VIDC’s involvement in the interview was to support Veronica is bringing attention to the struggle that a number of HCV-positive individuals face.
The Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre (VIDC) is now providing Take Home Naloxone Training for individuals using prescribed or diverted opioids. The training educates participants about basic overdose prevention, in addition to how to identify and respond to an opioid overdose, and administer naloxone when appropriate.
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone, also commonly known as Narcan, is an antidote to an opioid overdose. An overdose of opioid drugs such as morphine, heroin, methadone, OxyContin can cause a person’s breathing to slow or stop. Naloxone is an injectable medication that can reverse this so the person can breathe normally and regain consciousness. Naloxone does not work for overdoses such as cocaine, ecstasy, GHB, or alcohol. However, if an overdose involves multiple substances including opioids, naloxone will help by temporarily taking the opioid out the equation.
Who is eligible to receive a Take Home Naloxone Kit?
An individual who has received the training, has a history of illicit opioid use, and a written prescription from a physician is eligible to receive a Take Home Naloxone Kit at no cost. Individuals who don’t use opioids, but know someone who does (eg. Support workers, peers of people who use opioids, family members) are not eligible to receive a kit. They are encouraged to attend the training to learn how to administer naloxone in an emergency situation and how to respond if naloxone isn’t readily available. Morbidity and mortality related to any kind of overdose is significantly reduced when the community has an increased awareness of how to mitigate risks, recognize, and respond appropriately in a timely manner.
For World AIDS Day 2015, we at VIDC quietly remembered our friends who have lost their lives to AIDS and those who are winning their battle with HIV. The whole day was quiet, a little solemn, but also mostly hopeful — our battle with HIV has come a long way in the past couple of decades.
If you’re looking to brush up on your hepatitis C knowledge and be updated on progress made in the medical research around the virus, then this resource is for you.
The American Journal of Medicine (AJM) Description: “The “Green Journal” publishes original clinical research of interest to physicians in internal medicine, both in academia and community-based practice. The American Journal of Medicine is the official journal of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine, a prestigious group comprised of chairs of departments of internal medicine at more than 125 medical schools across the country. Each issue carries useful reviews as well as seminal articles of immediate interest to the practicing physician, including peer-reviewed, original scientific studies that have direct clinical significance, and position papers on health care issues, medical education, and public policy. The journal’s ISI factor – the international measure of cited manuscripts and scientific impact – is fourteenth in the world among all general medical journals. The Editor-in-Chief is Joseph Alpert, MD. ” – About Our Hepatitis C Blog
Hepatitis C Blog Description: “The goal of this global hepatitis C blog is to encourage communication and break down communication barriers so clinicians and their supportive care teams can effectively confront the challenges associated with screening, diagnosing, treating, and managing increasing numbers of individuals with hepatitis C. This blog is supported by Elsevier Multimedia Publishing and the American Journal of Medicine (AJM), and serves as a companion to their comprehensive, online, global educational initiative, the AJM Hepatitis C Resource Center (hepcresource.amjmed.com).” – About Our Hepatitis C Blog
AJM Hepatitis C Resource Center Description: “The AJM Hepatitis C Resource Center provides both primary care providers and specialists with continually updated treatment guidelines, and an up-to-date repository of informative, freely-available, full-text articles to encourage effective HCV screening and diagnosis, and to highlight the promise of novel treatment regimens.” – About Our Hepatitis C Blog
This month’s Community Spotlight is again on Bradford McIntyre.
We want to join him in celebrating the life he was told should have ended within 6 months from November 28 — THIRTY YEARS AGO!
Brad, as you might remember from our September Community Spotlight, is a dear friend of VIDC. A number of our photos (for example, the ones from STRUT 2015 and RR4L 8, to name a few) were taken by him — if there is anything significant happening in the HIV community that we are a part of, we can bet that Brad is already there! Brad’s commitment to the work that he does for the HIV Positive community rivals even our own, and this post sheds some light on what motivates this passion.
This month’s spotlight is a bit different. Not only is it shone on someone we’ve already featured before, but it is also one where we will let the the person speak for himself.
There is no way anything written on VIDC Connect could be as impactful as reading his words for yourself.
Here’s a quick snapshot of some important updates from VIDC.
UBC iCON South Asian CPC
On November 28, 2015 the VIDC team held its third special CPC. VIDC Community Pop-Up Clinics are are constantly evolving to accommodating different communities that would benefit from point-of-care testing for either HIV, HCV, or both. This year we have done a CPC at the World Hepatitis Day Vancouver Event 2015 for attendees, one for the Chinese community at the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Health Fair 2015, and now a one for the South Asian Community. Just like the first two events, VIDC provided point-of-care HCV Testing, FibroScan® Testing, and a specialist consult for those who test positive
As a medical and research clinic, VIDC is involved with a number of clinical trials — specifically trials in HIV and HCV. One of which is AMBER, an AbbVie clinical study focused on treating chronic hepatitis C infection for genotype 1. Consequently, the VIDC team — led by Dr. Brian Conway — successfully enrolled the very first patient for the study.
Clinical studies like these are a very integral part of the cascade of care we provide at VIDC. These studies allow us to further engage patients in care, and provide them access (when applicable) to treatment options that are only available through clinical studies.
Red Ribbons for Life (RR4L)
Red Ribbons for Life 8 last November 29 was a huge success! Community organizations and its supporters, local politicians, pharmaceutical company representatives, and amazing performers came together to help raise money and awareness for HIV.
And of course, VIDC was there to support the cause — and to listen to our President and Medical Director, Dr. Brian Conway, give the keynote speech for the evening.
It was a lovely evening filled with music, laughter, and show-stopping performances shared with friends and family all present to support the fundraising efforts of RR4L.
One of the main issues with health care revolves around access — regardless of how state-of-the-art your services are, if the target population cannot access it, it is essentially useless. This is one of the reasons VIDC Connect exists, to help in engaging individuals by updating them on who we are and what we do. There is, however, an organization that’s taking this a step further: bc211.
According to their website:
bc211 is a Vancouver-based nonprofit organization that specializes in providing information and referral regarding community, government and social services in BC. Our help line services include 211, the Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service (ADIRS), the Problem Gambling Help Line, VictimLink BC, and the Youth Against Violence Line. (www.bc211.ca/about/)
Basically, bc211 bridges the gap between service providers and individuals who need the services. Their main helpline, 2-1-1, is both a telephone and a texting service!
211 is a confidential, multilingual telephone and texting service available in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Squamish-Lillooet and Sunshine Coast Regional Districts. 211 provides free information and referral to a full range of community, social, and government services, and operates twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. (WWW.BC211.CA/HELP-LINES/)
They also have a Twitter account that further facilitates the ease of connecting with them.
And here’s our — Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre’s (VIDC’s) — listing on bc211.
Please help us spread this amazing resource as widely as possible. You, your friend, relative, coworker, classmate, professor, mentor, etc. might need it or know someone who does. Being able to access the appropriate services at the appropriate time could drastically alter an individual’s life.