New research suggests centre-based childcare may bring health benefits

From the Medical Xpress article

A new study conducted in Canada found that children who attended centre-based childcare between 1 and 4 years of age had a lower body mass index (BMI) and were less likely to be overweight or obese in later childhood than children who had non-parental childcare that was home-based or provided by relatives or nannies. These associations were stronger for children from lower income families.

“Although more research is needed, our findings suggest that centre-based childcare may help level socioeconomic-related health disadvantages for children from low-income families,” said Michaela Kucab, a graduate student at St. Michael’s Hospital, a site of Unity Health Toronto, and the University of Toronto, both in Canada.

Kucab will present the findings online at Nutrition 2022 Live Online, the flagship annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition held June 14-16.

“We hope this work draws much-needed attention to prioritizing centre-based childcare while also encouraging future research on the impact of centre-based childcare on growth and other important health and developmental outcomes in children,” said the study’s senior author Jonathon Maguire, MD, from St. Michael’s Hospital.

Previous studies evaluating the relationship between childcare attendance and obesity have primarily focused on comparing parental care with non-parental childcare settings.

Catching monkeypox can mean extreme pain, hospital trips — and weeks of isolation

From CBC News

In late May, not long after he’d gotten through a mild bout of COVID-19, Peter Kelly spiked a sudden fever. He quickly realized it wasn’t the tail end of a COVID infection.

Over a period of several days, the Toronto resident became exhausted, and his muscles began to ache. His temperature oscillated between chills and night sweats. Then, strange sores started to appear on different parts of his body — eventually around two dozen that he could see, mostly on his legs, and painful ones hidden from view in his rectum. 

As a professional dancer, Kelly is used to pain. He’s been injured a lot — most recently, a broken rib that’s still healing — and has serious eczema, a skin condition that can cause an itchy or burning sensation. 

But Kelly had never experienced something as excruciating as the unexplained lesions emerging on sensitive areas of his body.

“This was on another level,” he later recalled. “You can’t control it. It feels like razor blades in a way, shocking you constantly.”

What followed was nearly a month of tests, three emergency room trips, one infected sore, and finally, a lab-confirmed diagnosis: Monkeypox virus or, as it’s known throughout the scientific community, MPXV.

“The physical aspect of what I went through was pretty bad, for certain moments. But what I realized was the mental health aspect of all of this was probably the main thing I was dealing with,” he said. 

“It’s such a long quarantine period.”

He’s not the only one facing pain, uncertainty and what can be a period of weeks-long isolation.

More than 200 Canadians and counting have been infected with MPXV as a result of a global outbreak that began in May. It’s a virus known for long-lasting, often painful symptoms, and people are contagious until they recover.

Physicians, advocates, and health officials are now calling for more financial and housing support to ensure people can quarantine safely, if needed, for weeks on end — with COVID offering some key lessons on how to handle this emerging public health emergency.

“Many folks during that long period, if they’re forced to isolate, are not going to be able to go to work, are not going to be able to pay their bills, pay the rent, put food on the table,” said Dr. Darrell Tan, an infectious diseases specialist who has treated multiple patients with MPXV at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

“And these very, very real challenges that people face, because of their willingness to adhere to public health principles, is something that I think we, as a society, have to take responsibility for.”

New report: Violence against women during the COVID-19 pandemic

Media release from CHEC

Women experienced more frequent, and often more severe, violence during the pandemic, creating new challenges for violence against women services and their clients, a newly-released study has found (   

The report, entitled “Adapting the violence against women systems response to the COVID-19 pandemic” looked at the experience of staff and survivors at violence against women organizations across the Greater Toronto Area during the pandemic. The study was co-led by Dr. Alexa Yakubovich and Priya Shastri. Dr. Yakubovich is an Assistant Professor in Dalhousie University’s Department of Community Health & Epidemiology and an Affiliate Scientist at the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital. Shastri is an anti-violence advocate with the Toronto Region Violence Against Women Coordinating Committee and Woman Abuse Council of Toronto. 

“Service providers told us they were seeing a lot more clients with really severe cases of violence,” Dr. Yakubovich said. “Because of health restrictions and women being isolated at home with abusive partners, there were just worse outcomes in terms of struggling to access supports, like counselling, housing, legal support, and appropriate healthcare.” 

Results from the report will be shared at a virtual panel event on June 22 co-hosted with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation entitled “Lighting up the Shadow Pandemic: Violence Against Women, Housing and COVID-19” (registration at This presentation will highlight the experiences of violence against women and the impact on staff in support services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hidden homelessness, shelter access and housing interventions will be discussed. 

In addition, Dr. Yakubovich will be leading a webinar on the study findings with the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre on Family Violence Research on June 23 ( 

The study also found that nearly every participating organization had to significantly change its service model due to the pandemic, in many cases without sufficient funding. The mental health of both staff and survivors was in many ways negatively impacted. Organizations often struggled with referrals, including to housing, shelter, healthcare, childcare, and legal supports. 

The report speaks to the need for increased funding to violence against women organizations and for strengthening access to housing, health, justice, and social protection systems for women experiencing violence. 

Despite the challenges, Shastri said, many staff went above and beyond to support women. Survivors described this support as lifesaving, quoting one survivor as saying: “They do amazing work… this organization has kept me alive.” 

Dr. Yakubovich has received nearly half a million dollars in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to expand the Toronto study to all of Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. This summer, a team of researchers, advocates, service providers, and women who have experienced violence will begin looking at what is working well in violence against women services across the three provinces to inform better policy and practice. 

For more information, contact: 

Dr. Alexa Yakubovich: 

Brad Honywill:  
Communications Coordinator, 
Canadian Housing Evidence Collaborative (CHEC), 
C: 905-334-9259 

Open letter: Infectious disease physicians and medical microbiologists across Canada call on federal government to provide isolation supports for patients with infectious diseases

Attn: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos,
Minister of Health, Government of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Duclos,

We are infectious disease physicians, medical microbiologists, and other experts from across Canada. We are warning the federal government that Canada is in the midst of a rapidly growing monkeypox epidemic. As with infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and tuberculosis, slowing transmission necessitates people isolating from others. Without immediate access to isolation supports, however, it is impossible for most people to follow this recommendation.

Under the current system, when someone is asked to isolate, they have to largely figure out how to manage the situation on their own. Most people do not have the space to effectively isolate from household members, and some live in congregate settings such as shelters. Many people can’t give up essential care-giving duties, or take time off work without losing money needed for rent or food. In addition, while people isolate, they need access to basics such as groceries and medication.

Given this impossible situation, some people may avoid getting tested for monkeypox even if they have symptoms or a known exposure. As a result, people may go without treatment, which can lead to worse individual health outcomes as well as a sustained epidemic in the community.  These problems are further exacerbated by social inequities.  To date, the global monkeypox epidemic has disproportionately affected sexual minorities, many of whom face food and housing insecurity due to systemic discrimination.  These inequities may be compounded for those facing discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, Indigeneity, immigration status, gender identity, HIV status, disability, substance use, social class, or religion.

The solution is clear—immediate and permanent federally-funded wrap-around supports for people with confirmed or suspected cases of infectious diseases that require isolation, and people who may have been exposed and are asked to isolate. There is ample evidence that supports are what make isolation work. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned that many people want to isolate, and will do so with the right supports.1,2

These supports have been recommended by community organizations and experts across Canada and include:

  • Immediate emergency financial supports for people required to isolate because of an infectious disease, without exception, including via waiver of the one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance benefits. This should include special benefits similar to those that supported COVID-19 mitigation, including the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit. This support must extend to anyone required or recommended by public health to isolate because of any infectious disease (including monkeypox infection, tuberculosis, COVID-19), irrespective of proven employment status.
  • Funding for community-based, frontline service organizations and other institutions as appropriate to enable the immediate roll-out of wrap-around services. These include:
    – Temporary housing for those who can’t self-isolate in their current situation;
    – Delivery of groceries and other essential items.

Canada is already in the midst of a monkeypox epidemic. The time to act is now. We know what we need to do. Now we are waiting for the federal government to act.


Dr. Darrell Tan, Infectious Disease Physician, St. Michael’s Hospital; Scientist, MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions; Canada Research Chair in HIV Prevention and STI Research

Dr. Sharmistha Mishra, Infectious Disease Physician, St. Michael’s Hospital; Scientist, MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions; Canada Research Chair in Mathematical Modeling and Program Science

Dr. Adrienne Chan, Infectious Disease Physician, Sunnybrook Health Sciences

Dr. Rupert Kaul, Director, Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Toronto and University Health Network

Andrew M. Morris, Physician, Sinai Health and University Health Network

Dr Amila Heendeniya, Physician, University of Manitoba

Dr. Valerie Sales, Infectious Diseases Physician, Markham Stouffville Hospital, Oak Valley Health.

Dr. Carl Boodman, R6, Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology resident, University of Manitoba

Dr. Mariah Hughes, Physician, Infectious Diseases Fellow. University of Toronto

Dr. Adrienne Showler, Physician, Toronto General Hospital, St. Michael’s Hospital

Dr. Mara Waters, Resident, St Michael’s Hospital

Dr. Greg German, Medical Microbiologist St. Michael’s Hospital and St Joseph’s Health Centre, Staff Physician Chronic Infection Clinic St Joseph’s Health Centre

Terence Wuerz, Infectious Diseases Physician, St. Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg, MB

Dr. Sharon Walmsley, Infectious Diseases Physician, University Health Network, Senior Scientist, Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, Director Immunodeficiency Clinic, University Health Network, University of Toronto

Dan Werb, Director, Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, St. Michael’s Hospital

Dr. Sean Hillier, Assistant Professor & York Research Chair in Indigenous Health Policy, York University

MIchel Alary, Professor and medical epidemiologist , CHU de Québec -Université Laval Québec

Dr. Andrew Eaton, Assistant Professor, University of Regina

Dr. Jason Brophy, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Physician, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario

Dr Justin Penner, Paediatric Infectious Diseases Physician, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario

Dr. Ann Burchell, Scientist, St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto

Dr. Troy Grennan, Physician Lead, HIV/STI Program, and Infectious Diseases Physician, BC Centre for Disease Control

M-J Milloy, PhD, Canopy Growth Professor of Cannabis Science, University of British Columbia; Research Scientist, British Columbia Centre on Substance Use

Dr. Angela Kaida, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Jean-Pierre Routy, McGill University

Jorge Martinez-Cajas, Infectious Disease Physician, Kingston Health Sciences Centre, Queen’s University

Mona Loutfy, Physician, Women’s College Hospital & Maple Leaf Medical Clinic

Dr Maxime Billick, Chief Medical Resident, Toronto General Hospital

Dr. Marek Smieja, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton & McMaster University

Dr Joss de Wet, Family physician, Spectrum Health; Clinical Assoc Professor, Dept Family Medicine, UBC

Dr. Charles Hui, Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Immunology and Allergy, CHEO, Ottawa

Dr. Sofia Bartlett, Adjunct Professor, University of British Columbia

Dr. Brian Conway, Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Bertrand LEBOUCHE, clinician scientist, McGill University Health Centre

Dr. Vanessa Allen, Medical Microbiologist and Infectious Diseases Specialist, Sinai Health and University Health Network

Wangari Tharao, Director of Research and Programs, Women’s Health in Women’s Hands CHC

Dr. Paul MacPherson, Physician, The Ottawa Hospital and University of Ottawa

Dr. Janine McCready, Infectious Diseases Physician, Michael Garron Hospital

Dr. Thomas Dashwood, Infectious Diseases Physician, University of Toronto

Dr. Megan Landes, Physician, Emergency Department, University Health Network

Dr. Brian Hummel, Infectious Diseases Physician (Fellow), Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario

Dr. Daniel Grace, Associate Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Dr. Jeff Powis, Medical Director IPAC, Michal Garron Hospital

Dr. Sheliza Halani, Resident Physician, Women’s College Hospital

Dr. Matthew P. Muller, Infectious Diseases Physician, St. Michael’s Hospital; Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control, Unity Health Toronto

Dr. Reena Lovinsky, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control, Scarborough Health Network, General and Birchmount Hospitals

Dr. Jerome Leis, Infectious Disease, Sunnybrook

Dr. Larissa Matukas, MD, FRCPC, Head, Division of Microbiology, Unity Health Toronto

Dr. Bryan Coburn, Infectious Diseases Physician, University Health Network

Dr. Kevin Schwartz, Infectious Disease Physician, St. Joseph’s Health Centre

Isaac Bogoch, Physician, Toronto General Hospital

Dr. Nisha Thampi, Physician, CHEO

Gregory Walter Rose, MD, FRCPC, Infectious Diseases Physician, Queensway Carleton Hospital

Dr. Nadine Kronfli, Physician, McGill University Health Centre

Zain Chagla, Physician, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton

Mario Ostrowski , MD, University of Toronto

Dr. Ian Brasg, Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control, Humber River Hospital

Charlie Tan, Resident Physician, University of Toronto

Dominik Mertz, McMaster University

Dr. Corinna Quan, Infectious Diseases Physician, Windsor Regional Hospital

Dr. Yoav Keynan, Physician, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg

Dr. Todd Hatchette, Physician, Dalhousie University

Coleman Rotstein MD University Health Network, MD Infectious Diseases Physician, University Health Network

Sarah Khan, Physician, McMaster University

Manal Tadros, Medical Microbiologist, The Hospital for Sick Children

Dr. Christopher Graham, Infectious Diseases Physician, Trillium Health Partners

Dr. Gregory Deans, Infectious Diseases Physician, Fraser Health

Dr. Gordon Dow, Physician, The Moncton Hospital

Dr. Theresa Liu, Infectious Disease Physician, Grand River Hospital/St. Mary’s General Hospital, and Sanguen Health Centre

Dr. Dwight Ferris, Infectious diseases consultant physician, Kelowna General Hospital

Yasmeen M Vincent, Medical Microbiologist LifeLabs, ON

Dr. Gary Garber , Professor , Department of Medicine and the School of Public Health and Epidemiology, University of Ottawa, Director Safe Medical Care Research

Dr. Anne E McCarthy, Infectious Diseases Physician Ottawa Hospital

Dr. Devika Dixit, Pediatric ID Physician, Calgary, Canada

Dr Ruchika Gupta, Resident , Medical Microbiology, University of Toronto

Dr. Philippe Lagacé-Wiens, Physician, Shared Health

Yvonne Shevchuk, Pharmacist, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition

Dr. Rob Kozak, Clinical microbiologist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, Infectious Diseases, University Health Network

Dr. Geneviève Bergeron, Public health Physician, Montreal Public Health

Dr. DB Gregson FRCPC, University of Calgary

Dr. Dwight Ferris, Kelowna General Hospital

Dr. Shannon Turvey, Physician, Vancouver General Hospital

Dr. Byron M. Berenger, Medical Microbiologist, University of Calgary

1. Cevik M, Baral SD, Crozier A, Cassell JA. Support for self-isolation is critical in covid-19 response. BMJ. 2021 Jan 27;372:n224. doi: 10.1136/bmj.n224. PMID: 33504501.

2. Thompson, Alison, Stall NM, Born KB, et al. Benefits of paid sick leave during the COVID-19 pandemic. Science Briefs of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. 2021;2(25).

cc: The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
cc: The Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth
cc: The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and
      Disability Inclusion
cc: The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
cc: The Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Labour
cc: The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance
cc: The Honourable Kamal Khera, Minister of Seniors
cc: Mr. Michael Barrett, MP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes
cc: Mr. Randall Garrison, MP for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke
cc: Mr. Luc Thériault, MP for Montcalm

U of A researchers participate in syphilis rapid test development

From CTV News

Researchers at the University of Alberta are celebrating a major advancement in the detection of syphilis, one of the most contagious sexually transmitted infections.

Traditional testing takes seven to 10 days but the new finger-prick blood test takes 15 minutes. It’s the first of its kind in Canada.

“What this test allows us to do is to do the test and offer treatment at the same visit. So that’s very exciting and it means we don’t lose people to a follow up appointment,” explained principal investigator Ameeta Singh.

Doctors, nurses and other health-care workers demand Ontario provide workers with 10 paid sick days

From the Toronto Star article

All workers, especially those in low-wage and precarious employment, need 10 permanent paid sick days or their health will suffer, diseases such as COVID-19 will be more likely to spread — and more people will end up in the hospital.

That’s the message more than 160 physicians, nurses and other health-care workers are sending to the province with an open letter published Friday, calling on the government to legislate 10 paid sick days for all workers, public or private.

The letter was created by the Decent Work and Health Network, a health and labour rights advocacy group operated by health-care workers.

Health workers and advocates who signed the letter told the Star it’s unacceptable the province has not already made the change, two years into a pandemic that has disproportionately led to the hospitalization of racialized and low-income workers who do not have sick leave.

Ahead of a seventh wave that could come in the fall, all workers need as much protection as they can get, they said.

Workers not only need paid sick days for themselves, they need to be able to stay home with their children if they get sick, said Dr. Shazeen Suleman, a pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital who signed the letter.

Young children will have 10 to 15 colds a year, and often when children are very young, they will get severely ill, she said.

“A child doesn’t have any choice of when they are getting sick,” said Suleman. “If their parent doesn’t have access to a paid sick day they are having to either send them to school sick and go to work to put food on the table, or take care of their child.

Canada Moves to Decriminalize Possession of ‘Hard’ Drugs

From the Wired article

On Tuesday, May 31, the Canadian government made a ruling that was the first of its kind for the country. Starting on January 31, 2023, the province of British Columbia will conduct a trial—lasting three years—in which people over the age of 18 will be able to possess up to 2.5 grams of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA without arrest, seizure, or charge. Canada joins a handful of countries with existing decriminalization policies; others include Portugal, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and the United States (Oregon decriminalized possessing small amounts of hard drugs back in 2020).

A decriminalized drug resides in a constitutional no-man’s land, neither legal nor illegal. The policy essentially entails that possession won’t result in handcuffs and that a substance use disorder won’t be treated as a crime. “This is long overdue,” says Daniel Werb, director of the Center on Drug Policy Evaluation at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. “This is something that people have understood for a really long time—that you can’t arrest your way out of this problem.”

And a problem it is indeed. The war on drugs has waged on for half a century, and the writing’s on the wall: It’s clearly not working. “The record is clear that the global war on drugs has been a total catastrophic policy failure,” says Ben Perrin, a law professor at the University of British Columbia and author of Overdose: Heartbreak and Hope in Canada’s Opioid Crisis. Criminalizing drug use disproportionately targets the marginalized, including Black and Indigenous communities, the unhoused, and people with mental illness. And the stigma stemming from criminalization means that people are less likely to seek help, and more likely to use drugs alone, which contributes to higher rates of overdose.

Landlord and Tenant Board of Ontario sticks to virtual hearings as COVID restrictions lift, leaving some tenants disadvantaged

Related: Read MAP’s open letter to Tribunals Ontario

From the Toronto Star

The body responsible for resolving disputes between tenants and landlords in Ontario will be permanently holding virtual hearings.

The move has raised alarms for lawyers, physicians and advocates of tenants’ rights, who say defaulting to remote hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board of Ontario will shut out marginalized people in the province from having a fair hearing. The board, however, says digital hearings will increase efficiency and access in a backlogged system.

Dania Majid, a lawyer with the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, said she fears the move will especially affect those who face language barriers, low-income people who don’t have adequate technology, and those with mental and physical illnesses that bar them from sitting through lengthy virtual hearings.

And without access to a fair hearing, Majid said, she worries more vulnerable people in Ontario will be facing evictions and the threat of homelessness.

“We’ve just created an eviction machine,” Majid said, as opposed to a meaningful dispute resolution process.

Like most adjudicating bodies, the Landlord and Tenant Board moved to offer remote hearings by default in 2020 amid restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. Since the lifting of restrictions earlier this year, however, the board has continued to exclusively hold hearings remotely, often by Zoom or telephone. In a statement to the Star, Tribunals Ontario said the majority of people have preferred remote hearings, as travelling to an in-person hearing can be inconvenient.

This digital-first approach now applies to all 13 bodies under Tribunals Ontario, including the Human Rights Tribunal and the Social Benefits Tribunal. But with the Ontario Court of Justice moving instead to offer a mix of in-person and online hearings, advocates argue that Tribunals Ontario should do the same to meet people’s unique needs, and have raised questions about what access to justice will look like post-COVID.

A January 2021 report found that two in five of Toronto households don’t have access to internet that is up to speed with Canada’s national targets, and two per cent have no internet access. Cost is the biggest barrier to access, with low-income, newcomer, single parent, Latin American, South Asian, Black and Southeast Asian residents worrying the most about paying their internet bill.

“What’s concerning to us is that, of the people who do ask (for an in-person hearing), that group of tenants is disproportionately low-income, racialized people with disabilities,” Majid said.

Dr. Nav Persaud, a physician with the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at Unity Health in Toronto, said some of his patients have had trouble accessing their LTB hearings virtually. Some, he said, are older adults who have trouble hearing. Others have internet issues, resorting to calling in to their hearings by phone.

I’m Ready continues to democratize access to HIV self-testing for the undiagnosed

Registration now includes access to COVID-19 antigen tests and KN95 masks.

June 7th , TORONTO – The I’m Ready program – the first of its kind in Canada led by REACH Nexus at MAP Centre for Urban Solutions – continues its roll-out of 50,000 free HIV self-test kits to reach undiagnosed individuals and connect them to appropriate care and supports. Starting today, participants will also have access to free COVID-19 rapid antigen testing kits and KN95 masks when they access the I’m Ready, Test mobile app on an iOS or Android smart phone. These rapid tests and masks are being provided through the Stop the Spread and Stay Safe program, thanks to the Canadian Red Cross and Health Canada.

I’m Ready wants to ensure low barrier access to home testing so that participants and their partners can make the best decisions about when and where to access care. Individuals have the option of delivery or can pick up items at over 80 locations across Canada. The program has already registered 3,672 participants who have ordered a total of 9,085 HIV self-test kits – with 31% individuals identified as this being their first-time testing.

“I’m Ready is working – we’re reaching the undiagnosed and learning more about who we are able to reach and support. Being able to monitor and evaluate progress in real time is key. As part of the work moving forward, we’re now working with community groups to tailor the messaging and outreach to engage and support more people from the key populations we serve.” shared Dr. Sean B. Rourke, I’m Ready’s principal investigator and a scientist at MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital.
Participants, who must be 18 years of age or older, create an anonymous profile, answer surveys, can order up to 3 free HIV self-tests for delivery or pick-up at community sites, take the test, and share results. An additional resource, delivered in partnership with Women’s Health in Women’s Hands (WHIWH) and the Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC), includes the option to connect with direct peer navigator support at any time through the I’m Ready,Talk telehealth platform. In Canada, an estimated 70,000 people live with HIV as of today, the virus that causes AIDS, and 13 per cent of those (which is >8,000 people) are unaware of their status. HIV also disproportionately impacts men who have sex with men, African, Caribbean and other Black people, Indigenous Peoples, and people who use substances and inject drugs.

This is why the program’s technology and research-based approach to reach and support these communities – including those who are marginalized because of systemic racism, the legacy of colonization and residential schools, and stigma and discrimination in various forms including gender-based and against LGBTQ2+ communities is so important.

“We have incorporated a direct peer navigator support system representative of these key populations to support those who need help testing through the program,” said Wangari Tharao, Director of Research and Programs (WHIWH). “It is imperative that every Canadian should have access, choice and support for HIV testing and care, regardless of who they are or where they live.”
The I’m Ready research program is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR)’s Strategic Initiatives, and the St. Michael’s Foundation. We are thrilled to be working with Women’s Health in Women’s Hands (WHIWH), the Canadian HIV/AIDS Black, African & Caribbean Network (CHABAC), and the Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC) as inaugural partners, among other partners across Canada.

“We’ve made significant progress from the time Health Canada approved this country’s first HIV self-test in November 2020,” said Dr. Rourke. “And with the continued support of our partners and funders, we know we can continue to sustain and scale this program and continue to provide targeted efforts to reach those who are undiagnosed with HIV.”

About REACH Nexus‍

REACH Nexus is an ambitious national research group working on how to address HIV, Hepatitis C and other STBBIs (sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections) in Canada. Our focus is on reaching the undiagnosed, implementing and scaling up new testing options, strengthening connections to care, improving access to options for prevention (PrEP and PEP) and ending HIV stigma. REACH Nexus is part of MAP Centre for Urban Health Studies at St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto, and is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Learn more at

About MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions

MAP is a world-leading research centre dedicated to creating a healthier future for all. Through big-picture research and street-level solutions, our scientists tackle complex community health issues — many at the intersection of health and equity. Internationally recognized for ground breaking science and innovation, MAP has changed the way the world understands the health consequences of social inequality in Canada. Together with our community and policy partners, we are charting the way to the world’s healthiest cities: places where people, communities, and the political, economic, social, environmental, and health infrastructures come together so that everyone can thrive. MAP is part of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital and is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto. St. Michael’s is a site of Unity Health Toronto, which also includes Providence Healthcare and St. Joseph’s Health Centre.

Media contact‍

Adriana Suppa, Senior Communications Advisor, REACH Nexus
Mobile: 416-268-7642