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HIV in indigenous communities and how self-testing can help

HIV in indigenous communities and how self-testing can help

Did you know more than 6,500 Canadians are estimated to be living with undiagnosed HIV? A survey by First Nations in Saskatchewan and Alberta found that Indigenous participants living with HIV were less likely to know their status than the general population. Are we falling behind in linking those diagnosed with HIV to follow up with care and treatment? CATIE is part of a strategy by the federal government to distribute 200,000 HIV self-testing kits and is one of the only organizations distributing them directly through an online ordering centre. Anyone can order the free HIV self test-kits with the link in the press release below. 

CATIE is Canada’s source for HIV and hepatitis C information, and wants to connect the communities most affected by HIV to the tools they need to know their status and improve their health. CATIE wants to make sure people are aware of this new service where an individual can order free HIV self-test kits online, and have them delivered by mail in discreet packaging, anywhere in Canada.

Getting tested for HIV just got simpler with the launch of free HIV self-test kit distribution through CATIE, Canada’s source for HIV and hepatitis C information. Anyone in Canada can now place an order through to request free self-test kits delivered right to their doorstep or mailbox.

“Knowing your HIV status is the first step toward getting treatment that can save your life and stop transmission,” said Jody Jollimore, executive director of CATIE. “Whether you test positive or negative, the result will give you peace of mind and guide you to the right options to take care of your health.”

The HIV self-test approved in Canada is highly accurate, and research has shown that self-testing reaches communities that face barriers to accessing the health-care system. Especially at a time when health services are overwhelmed across the country, getting tested at home makes things easier for people who want to know their HIV status.

“Every day, four more people in Canada acquire HIV,” said Ivan Leonce, a CATIE board member. “Self-testing gives us another tool to know our HIV status sooner, and delivering the kits directly to our homes is putting our health right at our fingertips.”

If left untreated, HIV is a serious health condition. Thankfully, an HIV-positive person in Canada who is diagnosed and treated promptly can expect to have a life expectancy similar to HIV-negative people. A person living with HIV on effective treatment also can’t pass it on to their sexual partners. Getting tested is the first step toward getting the benefits of treatment and care.

“One out of 10 HIV-positive Canadians still do not know they are living with the virus,” said Jollimore. “We need to make testing as simple and convenient as possible, and self-testing is part of that.”


CATIE strengthens Canada’s response to HIV and hepatitis C by bridging research and practice. We connect health-care providers and community-based services with the latest science, and promote good practices for prevention and treatment programs. As Canada’s official knowledge broker for HIV and hepatitis C, you can count on us for up-to-date, accurate and unbiased information.

About the HIV self-testing project

This project is part of the Government of Canada’s $8 million investment in the purchase and distribution of HIV self-test kits across the country. The kits will be distributed by CATIE and other organizations to individuals and communities most affected by HIV, to support Canadian and international efforts to eliminate HIV as a public health threat by 2030.

About HIV in Canada

According to the latest estimates from the Public Health Agency of Canada, for the year 2020, there were 1,520 new HIV infections in one year.

The proportions of new HIV infections among people who inject drugs, Indigenous people and women are increasing.1

An Ontario study found that African, Caribbean and Black people living with HIV were less likely to know their status (85%) than the general Canadian population (90%).1

A survey implemented by First Nations in Saskatchewan and Alberta found that Indigenous participants living with HIV were less likely to know their status (64%) than the general Canadian population (90%).1

Additional resources

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About The Author

MUSKRAT Magazine

MUSKRAT is an on-line Indigenous arts, culture magazine that honours the connection between humans and our traditional ecological knowledge by exhibiting original works and critical commentary. MUSKRAT embraces both rural and urban settings and uses media arts, the Internet, and wireless technology to investigate and disseminate traditional knowledges in ways that inspire their reclamation.

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