Category Archives: VIDC Updates

Research Participation Opportunity! Positive Plus One

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.

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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.

To learn more, and to take the survey, visit our website at www.PositivePlusOne.ca, or call us at 1-888-740-1166.
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VIDC Connect is back!

Due to a lot of different things that we do not have time to discuss, VIDC Connect has gone on a semi-hiatus over the past three (3) months . BUT that doesn’t matter now, cause we’re back now!

We wanted to post this at the beginning of April, but it might be taken as an April Fool’s joke. So we waited.

VIDC Connect is back to provide you with all the content we provided in 2015 — community spotlights, news and information on HCV and/or HIV treatments, community updates. etc.!

Again, if you have any suggestions about things you want to see here, use our Contact Us page and let us know!

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Not us, we’re back!

NALOXONE at VIDC

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.

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One of our staff, Riley Flannagan, providing NALOXONE Take Home Training at our HCV Treatment Support Group.

What is Naloxone?

image2Naloxone, 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.

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Our HCV Nurse, Shawn Sharma, participating in the practice exercise — how to administer injection.

We will be holding more training sessions in 2016, please stay tuned to hear about them. Or you can also subscribe to our e-newsletter to hear about it.

(Post by Riley Flannagan)

World AIDS Day 2015

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.

We also joined our friend, Bradford McIntyre in reliving his interview at The Dini Petty Show. Bradford sent us a link to his blog where he featured the footage of his interview and reflected on the experience and how far he’s come since the interview for World AIDS Day 1994.

November 30, 1994: Bradford McIntrye comes out on World Aids Day 1994 and begins a journey as an HIV/AIDS warrior. He had been given 6 months to live. (Dini Petty YouTube Channel)
November 30, 1994: Bradford McIntrye comes out on World Aids Day 1994 and begins a journey as an HIV/AIDS warrior. He had been given 6 months to live. (Dini Petty YouTube Channel)

Click on the photo to watch the full interview (or follow this link).

We also took to Snapchat and joined their World AIDS Day Campaign in cooperation with (RED).  For every photo snapped with the (RED) filter, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will donate $3 to (RED), up to $3 MILLION.

Yes, the filter was upside down. No, there's nothing significant about it.
Our research staff ( from left to right: Anita, May, Riley, Hannah, and Carmen) represented VIDC and took a snap! Yes, the Jared Leto (RED)filter was upside down. No, there’s nothing significant about it.

The (RED) Revolution is one of the many ways YOU can help. Read more about (RED) by going to red.org and find out how you can help!

Once a year we commemorate World AIDS Day, as the fight against HIV continues. Let’s keep doing what we can to help!

VIDC November Highlights

Here’s a quick snapshot of some important updates from VIDC.

UBC iCON South Asian CPC

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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

AMBER Study

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.

AMBER Study November Newsletter
AMBER Study November Newsletter

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.

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Dr. Conway with fellow Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Excellence in the Field of HIV/AIDS in Canada Honoree, Bradford McIntyre, at RR4L 8. [PC Brad McIntyre]

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.

 

Red Ribbons 4 Life!

The Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre (VIDC) and the Empire of the Peace Arch Monarchist Association (Imperial Sovereign Court of Surrey) together with Lookout Emergency Aid Society (formerly KEYS Housing & Health Solutions) invite you to the 8th Annual Red Ribbons For Life (RR4L).

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This event was founded in 2008 by Martin Rooney as a part of the campaign to remove the US HIV Travel Ban. Proceeds have surpassed $35,000 since its inception and have benefitted two worthy organizations — primarily the Surrey HIV Food Bank (operated by Lookout) and AIDS Tijuana (Traux House), a clinic in Tijuana Mexico operating with funds raised through the International Court System and the Imperial Court de San Diego California.

Red Ribbons 4 Life has now become the largest single, one-night benefit for AIDS in the lower mainland outside the city of Vancouver!

It will definitely be a night to remember with breath-taking performances, an informative keynote address, an AIDS Memorial ceremony, silent and live auctions, and raffle draws — all while raising funds and awareness for the on-going battle with HIV!

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(PC: Emma Briones) Dr. Brian Conway MD FRCPC is following-up on his popular addresses at the last two years’ events this year for RR4L 8!

VIDC’s President and Medical Director, Dr. Brian Conway, will be giving the keynote address at the event.

World renowned Live Female Impersonator, Bobby Drake, is the headline performer for the celebration. A number of amazing local talent — Miz Adrien, Jennifer Geddes, Kiki LaWhore, Robin Loveless, and more — will also be gracing the stage with their performances!

We invite you to join us in making this event successful!

Details of the event are as follows:

Red Ribbons 4 Life 8th Annual Campaign

When: Sunday (November 29) 6-10PM
Where: The Columbia Theatre (530 Columbia St. New Westminster BC)
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Brian Conway MD FRCPC
Tickets: $25CAD*
Tickets can be purchased from the website.
*Early bird rate until November 15, 2015. Regular price would be: $35CAD
**A cash bar and food menu will be available

If you have any questions about the event, or issues concerning ticket purchase, contact: rr4life@shaw.ca

We hope to see you there!

VIDC September Multicultural Highlights

Last week VIDC had the opportunity to get involved with two momentous community-focused events by S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and RésoSanté Colombie-Britannique.

Health Fair 2015

SUCCESS HF Banner

On September 20, 2015 VIDC partnered with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and had a Community Pop-Up Clinic (CPC) set up at their annual health fair. At the fair, we tested over 100 people for hepatitis C. And even provided FibroScan® options for those who tested positive, or who self-report being previously diagnosed with hepatitis B. We provided services in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English to ensure that information is being delivered efficiently.

RésoSanté Directory Launch

ResoSante Logo

On September 22, 2015 RésoSanté launched their directory of health care professionals that can provide services in French. This year was a momentous event for them as their directory now has 1000 health care professionals in BC that cater to the Francophone community — and of course, VIDC is on the list! (If you don’t know, our President and Medical Director, Dr. Brian Conway, is a Francophone!) At the launch, Dr. Brian Conway was invited to speak on the importance of receiving health care in your own language.

The importance of this directory of French-speaking health care professionals cannot be underestimated. The best health care is provided in the best way possible at the time that it is first requested. One component of this excellence is to provide it in the right language. – Dr. Brian Conway

VIDC’s involvement in these events are the first steps we are taking into pursuing our commitment to providing a community-based holistic approach to treatment. Dr. Conway’s statement rings true regardless of what language or culture is in question — health is one of the few fundamental things that one should have access to, and this access should be facilitated through the right medium.

CBC Radio On The Coast interview with Dr. Brian Conway

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Click on the photo to listen to the broadcast. Stephen Quinn’s interview with Dr. Conway starts on 1:40:20.

Last Thursday (September 10) our President and Medical Director, Dr. Brian Conway, was on the CBC Radio show On The Coast as the Hepatitis C Expert.

The interview was a response to the recently published study from UBC with shocking results concerning Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents.

 

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UBC News article on the study.

According to the study, DTES residents are dying at a much higher rate compared to the national average, and not due to HIV/AIDS or substance overdose.

“We were somewhat surprised because most people thinking about the Downtown Eastside think about HIV/AIDS or the possibility of overdosing on opioids like heroin,” said Dr. William Honer, professor and head of UBC’s Department of Psychiatry and co-author of the study. “Our system is not doing as well in getting treatments out there for psychosis and hepatitis C in this group, and it’s interesting that those two illnesses are causing risk for early mortality.

— UBC News

Dr. Conway came on the show to speak on these findings — findings that, as VIDC’s President and Medical Director, does not surprise him. These results, as he mentions on the interview, parallels what we see when on our regular visits to the DTES for our Community Pop-Up Clinics (CPCs). The surprise that came with the results confirm one more important reality: there still isn’t enough awareness about hepatitis C.

According to Dr. Conway, the prevalence of HCV in the DTES community is because of a number of things. However, the main factors are: prevalence of injection-drug use, lack of awareness and education about the cure available for HCV, and the social situation of the residents. Not only is a very vulnerable population not aware of the disease and its cure, most of them have difficulty even accessing basic health care. It also does not help that HCV is asymptomatic (does not show symptoms) until about 20-25 years after infection.

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We have Community Pop-Up Clinics at various locations in the DTES to provide point-of-care testing for HIV and HCV.

This is one of main driving forces behind VIDC’s CPCs and the health-care model that we have at VIDC. By heading out into the community, we promote awareness and education while making health care a lot more accessible to the community members. Also, at VIDC, we understand that often treatment for a disease that is asymptomatic is the last thing on their minds. Why would they seek treatment when they are worried about where they can spend the weekend and how they will eat for the next couple of weeks? This is why our patient care takes all these into considerations. Often our nurses, research coordinators, clinic staff, and physicians would help patients with their housing application, or contact shelters and soup kitchens for them — all these on top of getting them started on treatment, applying for treatment fundings, and providing general health care.

To find out more about this, here a couple of very useful links:

VIDC at the PRIDE FESTIVAL 2015

It’s been a long time coming, but here it is — updates (and of course, PHOTOS) from PRIDE FESTIVAL 2015

As previously mentioned, VIDC is proud to have been part of this year’s PRIDE FESTIVAL. We’ve been in the community for so long, it was only a matter of time before this happened — and now is the time!

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The VIDC Information Booth set-up — with flyers, pamphlets, booklets, wristbands, and a glimpse of what we had for breakfast that day!

PRIDE is a time to celebrate acceptance and to stand up against discrimination — and since HCV and HIV/AIDS do not discriminate, we wanted to be present at the festival to promote awareness about these diseases and the treatments available.

It was a very interesting and informative day for us as we got to see other organizations who support PRIDE, the initiatives they are involved with, and the health programs they have for the community.  It was a great reminder that although HIV and HCV are negatively affecting a lot of people, there are also a lot of people working together to help those affected.

Our research assistants Ghazal and Dr. Sahand Vafadary posing for a photo before the festival opens.
Our research assistants Ghazal and Dr. Sahand Vafadary posing for a photo before the festival opened.

It was also very encouraging how receptive people were to the information. Festival goers were generally very inquisitive, and it was our great pleasure and delight to educate them about the diseases (HIV and HCV) and the treatments available.

One of our research coordinators and nurses, Candice, was handing out Hepatitis C Information Booklets and answering questions about testing and treatment options for Hepatitis C.
One of our research coordinators, Nurse Candice Tan, handing out Hepatitis C Information Booklets and answering questions about testing and treatment options for Hepatitis C with a huge smile!

We focused mainly on providing information on Hepatitis C. Why? Because we feel like the awareness of HCV isn’t as widespread as HIV; also, at PRIDE, there were a number of organizations with information booths spreading awareness for HIV already. We tried to fill in the gap where we saw fit. Hepatitis C is a serious disease, and we want people to know that they should get tested and that treatments are available!

Here is our Communications Assistant, Ivan, and volunteer, Marianne, handing out condoms, booklets, and bookmarks while telling people to “Be safe and get tested!” (The people in the back were on their lunch breaks.)

The VIDC team had different shifts in staffing the booth. We wanted to make sure we got the chance to enjoy the festival while also ensuring that we always had a medical professional to address people’s questions and concerns. We had all three of our nurses, a couple of our research coordinators, assistants, and volunteers present on-site at various times of the day — all ready and equipped to spread the good word that HCV is now curable and people should get tested.

Research Assistant, Riley, and our HCV Nurse, Yashna rocking the VIDC shirts -- not everyone can make them work.
Research Assistant, Riley, and our HCV Nurse, Yashna rocking the VIDC shirts — they’re one of the blessed ones who can make those shirts work!

We clearly had a lot of fun at! And we look forward to being a part of the PRIDE FESTIVAL again next year. Who knows, maybe we’ll have a float for the PARADE too!

Our volunteer, Marianne, embodying our main message for the day: Be safe! Get Tested!
Our volunteer, Marianne, embodying our main message for the day by giving out HCV information AND condoms — Be safe! Get Tested! (Yes, that’s Nurse Shawn Sharma in the background.)

World Hepatitis Day Event Vancouver 2015

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Event programme for the WHD Event

July 28, 2015 is the official World Hepatitis Day 2015. As such, the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) organized the World Hepatitis Day Event for Vancouver on the that day at the Creekside Community Recreation Center.

Various organizations came together at the event to bring awareness to the threats of hepatitis and the advances we have made against them. There were also guest speakers lined up for the day, from patients who have lived with hepatitis, to health care professionals discussing the advancements made to combat the disease.

And, of course, VIDC had to be there! As part of our commitment to a community-based holistic approach to treatment, being at the World Hepatitis Day event is our way of engaging and learning from the community.

Pictures speak louder than words! Check out the photos below to find out how else was VIDC involved at the event.

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VIDC Information Booth
We also had our Community Pop-Up Clinic(CPC), with the support of the First Nations Health Authority, set up! You might remember Brian from when we did Liver Screening at the Gathering Wisdom event.
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Our staff physician, Dr. Alexandra King, also gave a talk at the event bringing awareness to the importance of access to testing for HCV — especially for the indigenous community.
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One of our long-term patients, Brody Williams, sharing his experiences with hepatitis C — from the struggles of gaining access to treatment, to the success story of how he has battled the disease.
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Elder Sharon Jinkreson Bass, Brody Williams, and Dr. Alexandra King also unveiled the Hepatitis C Water Journey Blanket. An homage to the AIDS memorial quilt.

It is through events like these that communities are brought together to teach and learn from each other. And it is through these events that allies are brought together to fight towards a common goal: health and wellness.

To see more photos, check out the HepC BC’s post on World Hepatitis Day Vancouver 2015.