Advocacy about MonkeyPox
ACNS is an active member of an ad hoc informal community coalition that is pushing for action by the NS government on Monkeypox, including scaling up access to vaccines. Click here to see the committee's open letter to the NS government.
What is MonkeyPox
Monkeypox (aka Mpox) is a relatively rare virus that's primarily spread through extended periods of close physical contact with someone who has it. It can also be transmitted by droplets of saliva and mucus from coughing, sneezing, or kissing. Anyone can have and transmit monkeypox. In Canada, a large number of cases are among men who have sex with men (MSM), and one reason for this could be that MSM are very active in taking care of their health and getting tested regularly, especially for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It's important for everyone to be aware of their risks, symptoms, what can be done to help prevent it, and to stay up to date on new monkeypox information.
What to look for (signs and symptoms)
Symptoms may appear 5-21 days after exposure and can last 2-4 weeks. Mpox symptoms can also resemble signs of some STIs like syphilis and herpes. Mpox is not as severe as smallpox, however, if you develop a fever and then a rash it's recommended that you seek medical attention.
Monkeypox and HIV
Mpox doesn't appear to be any more severe in people living with HIV, especially people on effective treatment with a suppressed viral load.
Prevention and Treatment
Some ways to prevent Mpox is by washing your hands, wearing a mask, covering coughs/sneezes, and limiting sex partners. If you have a sore or blister and suspect Mpox, isolate from others. Cover the sore up with a large band aid if you must be in contact with other people or do have sex. Virtual sex with no in-person contact can be a good alternative while you heal. Talk to your partner(s) about any recent symptoms or unexplained sores or rashes. If possible, exchanging contact information with sexual partners can help reduce or prevent the spread of Mpox.
The same vaccine for smallpox is effective against Mpox and may be given by a public health or health care worker. If you think you were exposed to Mpox or suspect you have it, please contact your health care provider or local public health department as soon as possible
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For info about Mpox vaccines in NS (and other Mpox details) go to https://novascotia.ca/monkeypox
Want to know more about Mpox? Check out our Mpox Fact Sheet here.
Our Peer N Peer Pilot is Now Closed
We're are leaving this web content up for information purposes.
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What is Peer N Peer?
Peer N Peer is a peer-led queer substance use and sexual health program.
Rooted in harm reduction principles, the Peer N Peer project meets people where they are at on their substance use and sexual journeys.
The Peer N Peer team is here to support 2SLGBTQIA+ people in using substances more safely, improving their sex life, changing how substances affect their sex life, and reducing or abstaining from substance use if that’s their goal. The Peer N Peer team is here to help with whatever goals individuals may have around sexual health and substance use.
Supports and services offered by the Peer N Peer team include:
Harm Reduction Supplies offered by the Peer N Peer Project include:
We also offer sharps disposal.
Supplies can be delivered via Canada Post if you are unable to come into the project office. The Peer N Peer office is located at 5516 Spring Garden Road, Suite 203, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The Peer N Peer program is funded by Health Canada's Substance Use and Addictions Program through national program partner, Vancouver-based CBRC.
Info & Resources
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ACNS was overdue for a refresh...
Thanks to all who participated in our Community Consultations, and supported our planned changes at the Annual General Meeeting special resolution vote...
Watch out for our rebranding launch to come in Spring 2024!
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FROM FALL 2022 - SUMMER 2023 ...
The proposal that ACNS will be seeking feedback on is:
“to expand our mandate to address broader sexual health, mental health and substance use issues – and to do so for all 2SLGBTQIA+ Nova Scotians”. This is the possible future that we wish to work towards. This is the proposal we now wish to present to our existing clients and HIV priority populations, as well as to the broader 2SLGBTQIA+ communities in Nova Scotia.
First off, we want to be clear that we are not planning on giving up any of the HIV support and prevention programs and services we currently offer. ACNS will continue to address HIV issues for all impacted populations in Nova Scotia. However, to survive (or even thrive!) to be able to offer those HIV-specific services we need a broader foundation. Also, we’ve long been aware of the obvious overlaps and synergies between HIV work and broader 2SLGBTQIA+ health work.
HIV-specific funding – at both the provincial and federal level – continues to shrink each and every year! In addition, fund-raising for all charities has continued to get more and more challenging as the fundraising landscape gets increasingly crowded and competitive (and that was before COVID-19).
Back in 2018-2019 the ACNS staff and Board of Directors had gone through a detailed strategic planning process to assess the direction of the organization in both the short-and-long-term. We looked at the work we have been doing, the work we want to be doing, the challenges and opportunities that new developments in HIV treatment and prevention have presented, and we especially looked at the challenges and opportunities that changes in funding for programs have presented.
Out of that strategic planning process, new ideas and directions emerged that we need to discuss with our clients, and the populations we already serve... and the populations we may be adding to our service!
To finalize this process we were planning on doing consultations across Nova Scotia in the spring of 2020. COVID-19 interrupted that process. This spring we're back on track - offering Zoom consultation sessions. If Zoom does not work for you, let us know and we'll make alternative arrangements.
ACNS wants to hear your thoughts and input on our proposal, and we’re hoping to have in-depth discussions about how we can best serve our communities moving forward. Our community consultations will include an HIV+ client focus groups, and broader 2SLGBTQIA+ consultations.
If you have trouble with the form below, try our Canada Helps page.
Jordan (He/Him) is Programs Manager at ACNS, Jordan is a queer cis man of African Nova Scotian and Caucasian mixed-decent. Jordan spent his early life engaging in youth leadership and advocacy; sitting on the West Hants African Advisory Committee working to address educational inequities facing black youth.
Finishing up his Bachelors of Arts with a major in Psychology Jordan transitioned from the private sector to working with a host of community non-profits supporting adults and youth with intellectual disabilities as well as complex mental health challenges. Jordan also spent time supporting indigenous folks experiencing housing insecurity with the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre. Currently, Jordan serves on a few community-based boards volunteering his time.
Jordan also worked for Canadian fashion designer Lisa Drader-Murphy for several years as her executive assistant, learning invaluable lessons in entrepreneurship, business management, and strategic development. From this Jordan also developed on-going passion and side-hustle for designing and making clothing.
Michael (negm/negmow they/them) comes from a large family that holds its roots deep within the NS Black and First Nations communities. Being an Indigenous Two-Spirited and Black Nova Scotian has been the driving force for Michael’s work within the Queer, First Nations, and NS Black communities.
With a media technical background through NSCC, NSCAD, and ACADIA, Michael has worked in visual art since the early 90s, and some of their works have crossed into how they view society and its use or misuse of gender. Having worked within advocacy and consulting they spends much of their time on unpacking social equity in policy and procedures defined within working groups.
Michael is proud to have been part of many queer organizations and boards during their work in advocacy. This work has seen inclusion in Transgender Health legal advocacy with researchers and publication in Indigenous 2S knowledge. They have a long standing connection to Queer advocacy within the Atlantic province and have been greatly involved in the past with Halifax Pride, NSRAP, the Youth Project and OutLaw to name a few. They are a member of the Wabanaki Two Spirit Alliance, and a current Board member of NSPIRG.
“ It’s very,
very clear that the risk
is zero. ”
- Dr. Alison Rodger
Lead author of PARTNER study
The evidence is in: If you are HIV+, take treatment and maintain an undetectable viral load, you cannot pass HIV on to your sex partner – with or without condoms. In short, when HIV is undetectable, it’s untransmittable. Those words are long so the shorthand is “ U = U ”.
Viral load refers to the amount of HIV in the blood of a person living with HIV. HIV treatment can reduce the amount of HIV in the blood to a level too low to be measured by a viral load test. At that point, a person’s viral load is said to be undetectable. For most people, this occurs after taking HIV treatment for three to six months.
Starting treatment as soon as possible after becoming HIV positive decreases a person’s risk of developing serious illnesses and allows people to live long, healthy lives. Having an undetectable viral load can also prevent HIV transmission.
The only way to know is to have regular viral load tests. If your viral load becomes detectable again, there may be a risk of HIV transmission. An ongoing detectable viral load may also indicate that your HIV treatment is no longer working properly. If your viral load becomes detectable, talk to your doctor.
Since the introduction of combination therapy for HIV in the mid-1990s, there have been no confirmed reports of anyone with an undetectable viral load sexually transmitting HIV. Not one!
This conclusion is based on the overwhelming force of real world and research evidence including five major international research studies. These studies (see sidebar) showed that not a single HIV transmission occurred between serodiscordant* sex partners when the partner living with HIV was on treatment and had an undetectable viral load. (*Serodiscordant means one partner was HIV negative and one was HIV positive.) Combined, these studies tracked more than 150,000 condomless anal and vaginal sex acts – and there were ZERO transmissions of HIV.
The Prevention Access Campaign—an international coalition of HIV advocates, activists and researchers who are spreading the word that undetectable HIV is untransmittable—has turned this scientific evidence into a simple message: U = U. Researchers from all the major treatment as prevention studies have endorsed it. In November of 2017 the Government of Canada also endorsed it.
Maintaining an undetectable viral load can prevent HIV but it does not prevent the transmission of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Condoms can reduce the risk of many STIs, so you might want to use HIV treatment and condoms. Also, as STIs can be symptom-free regular STI testing is recommended for all sexually active people a minimum of once per year.
Take your HIV treatment as prescribed and see your healthcare provider regularly. Your ongoing healthcare should include blood tests to check your viral load and ensure that it remains undetectable. Wait until you have had at least two consecutive undetectable viral load test results before depending on this strategy.
To make this strategy keep working for you taking your meds is key. If you have trouble taking them every day, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your doctor, pharmacist and/or counsellor.
If your viral load does not become undetectable or if it becomes detectable again, this can increase the risk of transmission. In that case, you may need to use other prevention strategies, such as condoms or PrEP (for your partner(s)) until your viral load becomes undetectable.
Marc (He/Him) was raised in Westville, Nova Scotia, and is a lawyer at muttarts law firm in Kentville. He earned his Bachelor of Laws from the University of New Brunswick, and studied towards a Masters at Osgoode Hall. His masters’ work was on LGBT youth and the discrimination they face in the law. Marc’s work has an emphasis in family law, child protection law, immigration and refugee law, and general human rights work. He has a particular interest in health law and is on the board of various health and community-oriented organizations, including LGBT organizations and health facilities. He is also an avid actor.
Sheena (She/Her) is a registered social worker with many years’ experience in the fields of community development, sexuality, and gender. She currently works as the Community Navigator with the Halifax Public Libraries. When she’s not reading all the books, she’s working with the many visitors to the branch every day. Her proudest accomplishment lately is swimming across the Halifax harbour for the United Way.
Nakie (she/her) is a dynamic fitness expert who has worked professionally within the fitness, health and science field for over 10 years. She is a senior level personal trainer and team training coach within GoodLife Fitness. She is particularly focused on exercise as a form of therapy and pain management. Nakie has roots within the historic African Nova Scotian community and in Ghana, West Africa. She is a founding member of the community led organization AfriScotian, which is dedicated to sharing Black history with Nova Scotian youth. She has served as a youth mentor, organized charity events, and is a dedicated volunteer, and is a reoccurring guest speaker in Nova Scotian public schools and the Nova Scotian Freedom School for her expertise in health and fitness, along with other organizations!