HIV and AIDS

HIV is the virus that can lead to AIDS. HIV attacks the immune system, reducing bodily immunities and the ability to fight diseases and infections. While there is no cure for HIV, people with HIV can lead full, long lives thanks to major advances in treatment and care.

Annual Report 2016-2017

Whether it’s been campaigning for universal cost coverage of medical abortion, launching a cutting-edge resource for teaching sexuality education in schools, securing a major investment in global SRHR from the government Canada, offering thousands of people the health information they are looking for, or supporting sexual and reproductive rights defenders around the world to hold their governments accountable, we’ve been working tirelessly to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally.

Read our Annual Report to learn about the significant strides we made in 2016-2017 »

Having trouble reading the report? Click here to download in PDF

[WEBINAR] Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice

The Canadian Webinar Series on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights would like to invite you the third of a multi-phase series of webinars focused on key aspects regarding the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women living with HIV in Canada:

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice:

Canadian Webinar Series on Implementing the WHO Consolidated Guideline on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women Living with HIV

Register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5499989545982862594

Webinar ID: 958-488-283

Action Canada Joins Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights is proud to be among the 150+ organizations  calling for an end to unjust HIV criminalization in Canada.

Learn more about the Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization and read the Community Consensus Statement by visiting the coalition website: www.hivcriminalization.ca

Get Your Copy of Beyond the Basics Today!

Beyond the Basics is a resource for educators that offers the tools to teach young people about sexuality and sexual health from a sex positive, human rights perspective. Covering topics that range from anatomy to consent and healthy relationships, Beyond the Basics approaches sexuality education across all gender identities and sexual orientations with activities that help move students from receiving information to making decisions based on critical thinking skills and empowerment. Recognizing the time pressures educators face, Beyond the Basics is written to easily move in and out of chapters, modules, and activities that suit the particular age, maturity, and trust in each classroom.

Click here to purchase today!

Action Canada Stands in Support of Pop-Up Overdose Prevention Sites

All people deserve access to the health services they need. It is the responsibility of governments (at all levels), health care providers, social service providers, and civil society to work together to ensure the health and safety of all people and communities, including people who use drugs.

The opioid crisis and the overdose epidemic we are currently facing in Canada are symptoms of marginalization, lack of access to appropriate services, and lack of political will due to stigma and discrimination. People who use drugs are dying because of a lack of access to health care and support. Among other concerns, the stigma drug users face fuels HIV transmission by slowing down critical responses to public health issues.

What is happening in Canada is a public health emergency. The right to health requires services that are tailored to meet the health needs of different groups of rights-holders within a population. People who use drugs are one of those groups whose specific needs must be addressed. Multiple forms of systemic discrimination make it harder for drug users to gain access to health care. When and where health care is available, it is often stigmatized and its quality often compromised.

The 26th emergency overdose site was launched last week in Ottawa. Led by community members and people who use drugs, overdose prevention sites are a harm reduction-based health service that provide immediate health interventions proven to prevent fatalities from overdose. Those most affected are leading the way and cannot wait any longer. Overdose prevention sites will continue to pop up and provide an immediate response in this emergency—saving lives, making our communities safer, stronger and healthier and modeling what is possible when people work in solidarity with their neighbours.

The tools and strategies required to improve the health and lives of people who use drugs are well known and readily available. The overwhelming body of evidence on the effectiveness of harm reduction (including safe injections sites and needle exchange programs in prisons and other closed settings) is the basis for a comprehensive package of interventions recommended to prevent the spread of HIV and reduce other harms associated with drug use by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights stands strong in our support for the crucial harm reduction work that is happening all over Canada. As a national organization committed to upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights, we view these initiatives as crucial interventions in an overall strategy to address HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood borne infections and in saving lives and making communities safer for all.

We call on all levels of government and all stakeholders to ensure they facilitate (in all ways they can) this rapid, evidence-based response that addresses the devastating impacts of the criminalization of drugs and the opioid crisis. We need our leaders to step up and not stand in the way of those most affected by this crisis. Steadfast support for these important harm reduction initiatives is needed.

Our associate Planned Parenthood Toronto is hiring a Volunteer Engagement Worker, Youth HIV Project!

The Youth HIV/AIDS Project aims to increase the capacity of youth-at-risk to educate their peers about HIV prevention and to increase the ability and intention of youth-at-risk to practice protective behaviours that reduce the risk of transmission of HIV and other STIs. The Volunteer Engagement Worker is responsible for assisting the Coordinator with administrative duties, workshop monitoring and scheduling, and supporting the youth volunteers.

Click here to learn more and apply today!

SRH2017: That’s a wrap!

Last week was Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week with the theme Ready for some pillow talk? Did you miss it? There are still ways you can get involved.

Click here to learn more!

CEDAW: Recap from Canada’s review

Action Canada awaits release of recommendations to Canada

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights is in Geneva this week to participate in Canada’s review before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

In preparation for the review, Action Canada submitted a joint report to the Committee in collaboration with: Sexuality Education Resources Centre Manitoba, Sexual Health Centre Saskatoon, Sexual Health Nova Scotia, Pictou County Centre for Sexual Health, SHORE Centre, and Calgary Sexual Health Centre. The report addresses: comprehensive sexuality education, access abortion services (including medical abortion), conscientious objection, affordability of sexual and reproductive health services, health and safety of sex workers and the criminalization of the non-disclosure of HIV.

Click here for more information regarding the questions received by Canada in advance of the review, and responses provided back to the Committee.

Interactive dialogue with the Committee

Canada recognized the importance of access to sexual and reproductive health services in its opening statement.  The committee then asked the following questions:

  • What is the status of the Convention in Canada’s legal system, and what strategies are in place to ensure provincial/territorial implementation of commitments?
  • What is the availability of comprehensive sexuality education across online pharmacy Canada?
  • How affordable and available are modern methods of contraception, particularly for young women?
  • Recognizing the absence of legal restrictions to abortion in Canada, what are the strategies in place to address administrative barriers in access to the services?
  • What are the strategies to address conscientious objection, specifically in the case of abortion?
  • How many medical versus surgical abortions are provided in Canada?
  • What is the availability of national data related to contraceptive use, and sexual health more broadly?
  • Why does Canada criminalize the non-disclosure of HIV?
  • How do the new sex work laws comply with the 2013 Bedford decision (which struck down provisions of the criminal code found to violate sex workers’ human rights), and what strategies are in place to address the conflation of trafficking and sex work in the news laws?
  • In anticipation of the passing of bill C-16 (legislation to amend the criminal code and Canadian human rights act to include gender identity as grounds for discrimination), will it be applied across all Canadian jurisdictions?

Committee members drew attention to the fact that Canada has already been asked to address many of these issues (related to access to abortion services, conscientious objection and access to contraceptives) by other UN treaty monitoring bodies, including the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which reviewed Canada in March 2016.

In response to the initial set of questions, Canada shared some best practices in relation to comprehensive sexuality education and policies to regulate the use of conscientious objection. Specifically, the Canadian delegation made reference to the 2008 revision of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Guidelines for Sexual Health Education and Ontario’s new sexuality education curriculum, recognizing its inclusion of topics such as gender identity . The Ontario College of Physician and Surgeons’ policy on conscientious objection was also raised as a good example for requiring physicians to provide effective and timely referrals, to maintain effective referral plans and to provide care in emergency situations. The delegation mentioned the government’s commitment to engage in an “evidence-based review of the new laws related to sex work,” ensuring that those involved in the industry are meaningfully engaged in the review.

While the Committee welcomed the sharing of such best practices, it questioned the extent to which they are being applied throughout the rest of the country.  The Committee also suggested that Canada adopt a more holistic approach to addressing the barriers associated with access to abortion in Canada, similar to the approach taken to address violence against women.

Looking forward

Canada has agreed to provide the Committee with written responses to some questions posed by the Committee – namely those related to the availability of national statistics regarding contraceptive prevalence rates, the proportion of medical versus surgical abortions and the criminalization of the non-disclosure of HIV.

In the coming weeks, the Committee will release its Concluding Observations. We hope that these will include strong recommendations to Canada on issues raised during the review. An update will be available on our website and social media as soon as available.


Check out the hashtag “#Rights4CdnWomen” for commentary from NGOs.

Watch the recording of the review here and here.

Canada’s Upcoming CEDAW Review

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights will be in Geneva next week to participate in Canada’s review before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

The Committee is made up of 23 independent experts that monitor implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Countries party to the Convention (like Canada) are obligated to submit reports to and undergo periodic reviews by the Committee, outlining steps taken to implement rights in the Convention. Canada’s last review before the Committee took place in 2008.

In preparation for the review, Action Canada submitted a joint report to the Committee in collaboration with: Sexuality Education Resources Centre Manitoba, Sexual Health Centre Saskatoon, Sexual Health Nova Scotia, Pictou County Centre for Sexual Health, SHORE Centre, and Calgary Sexual Health Centre.

The report focuses on violations of Articles 10 (right to education) and 12 (right to health) of the Convention. Specific issues raised in Action Canada’s report include:

  • the provision of comprehensive sexuality education,
  • access to a comprehensive package of sexual and reproductive health information and services (including safe abortion services),
  • the denial of sexual and reproductive health care on moral or religious grounds,
  • the health and safety of sex workers and
  • the criminalization of the non-disclosure of HIV.

The report demonstrates the Government of Canada’s failure to take measures to address violations under the Convention, despite having the responsibility and authority to do so.

In advance of Canada’s review, the Committee asked the Government of Canada to provide information on measures taken to ensure:

  • access to a comprehensive and integrated package of quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, consistent with international human rights standards, across all provinces and territories, including for women and girls living in rural or remote regions as well as Indigenous women and migrant women, regardless of their legal status, African-Canadian women and women with disabilities;
  • the exercise of conscientious objection by health professionals does not impede effective access for women to reproductive health care services, including access to legal abortion and post-abortion services;
  • age-appropriate sexual and reproductive education is provided in all schools; and
  • full and unhindered access to health care for women…affected by sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.

Click here for the complete list of issues

Responses by the Government of Canada include:

  • There are no legal restrictions to abortion in Canada. Access to abortion and related services are considered medically necessary procedures under the Canada Health Act, regulated by P/T governments as a health and medical matter and funded under P/T health insurance plans.
  • All P/T governments offer access to SRH services including to women and girls living in rural or remote regions, Indigenous women, migrant women (regardless of their legal status), African Canadian women, and women with disabilities. Examples of additional targeted measures include:
    • Manitoba’s Healthy Sexuality Action Plan provides direction to government, regional health authorities, and community health and social service agencies to address poor sexual health outcomes for populations most adversely affected. Priority populations include youth, sexual and gender minorities, First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, refugee and newcomer populations, and older adults.
    • In British Columbia, the First Nations Health Authority aims to improve geographic and equitable access to culturally competent, holistic and wellness focused health prevention and promotion services, including reproductive health. The province’s ACCESS clinic at the BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre provides women with disabilities with pelvic exams, contraceptive advice, menstrual management, sexually transmitted infections screening, among other referral services.
  • Examples of measures established to ensure that the exercise of conscientious objection by health professionals does not impede effective access to abortion include:
    • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s Professional Obligations and Human Rights policy, sets out physicians’ professional and legal obligations to provide health services without discrimination and includes expectations for physicians who limit the health services they provide because of their personal values and beliefs, such as effective referral to another health care provider.
    • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia’s Professional Standards and Guidelines regarding access to medical care sets out expectations for physicians who make personal choices not to provide a treatment or procedure based on their values and beliefs. The province offers a provincial-wide toll-free telephone line for health care providers and patients regarding unplanned or unwanted pregnancy; this line also provides referrals for women seeking pregnancy termination. Age-appropriate sexual education
  • The following are examples of age-appropriate sexual education, which is being offered in schools across the country:
    • Ontario’s updated Health and Physical Education Curriculum (Grade 1 to Grade 12) includes a comprehensive sexual education component adapted to the age and development of students.
    • Nova Scotia’s Sex? -A Healthy Sexuality Resource for grade 7 students and Manitoba’s Growing up OK puberty resource for children aged 9-12 provide comprehensive sexual health and human sexuality information, including on gender identity.
    • Alberta Health Services’ teachingsexualhealth.ca offers sexual health teachers and educators evidence-based sexual health information. The site, which is recognized as an authorized teaching resource by Alberta Education, offers lesson plans for public school teachers, grades 4 to 12, online teacher workshops, fact sheets, videos and a parent portal.
    • In Quebec, the Mosaïk project offers education tools to promote a healthy and responsible sexuality among youth in a school context.
  • Governments offer a range of SRH information and public health programs and services. For example:
    • In British Columbia, Healthlink BC provides 24/7 telehealth services and online resources available across the province related to kamagra 100mg sexual and reproductive health, including specific resources on contraception.
    • Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and British Columbia fund sexual health clinics, including youth clinics, which offer services such as testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted blood-borne infections, reproductive health information and supplies as well as referrals to other requires health and social services.

Click here to read the complete response

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women is one of the many ways in which Action Canada is using the international human rights framework to hold the Government of Canada accountable in ensuring that everyone under Canada’s jurisdiction has access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services and information they are entitled to as part of their human rights.

Canada’s review will take place from 10:00AM to 1:00PM GMT+2 (4:00AM-7:00AM EST) on Tuesday, 25 October. A live webcast of Canada’s review will be available on UN Web TV. Select Human Rights Treaty Bodies > Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women > 65th session.

Follow @Action_Canada for a live tweet of the review and join the discussion using the hashtag #Rights4cdnWomen

CEDAW: 2016 Submission for Canada’s Review

This report is submitted by a coalition of organizations working to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights for Canada’s review during the 65th Session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, taking place October 25th 2016. The report examines violations of articles 10 and 12 of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women with respect to comprehensive sexuality education, access to a comprehensive package of sexual and reproductive health information and services (including safe abortion services), the denial of sexual and reproductive health care on moral or religious grounds, the health and safety of sex workers and the criminalization of the non-disclosure of HIV. The List of Issues prepared by the Committee in March 2016 requests that Canada provide information on a number of issues outlined in this report. Specifically, the Committee requested that Canada provide information on:

  • the provision of age-appropriate sexual and reproductive education in all schools,
  • access to a comprehensive and integrated package of quality sexual and reproductive health information and services across all provinces and territories, consistent with international human rights standards,
  • measures taken to ensure that the exercise of conscientious objection by health professionals does not impede effective access for women to reproductive health-care services, including access to legal abortion and postabortion services,
  • number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions and the type of sanctions imposed for trafficking and exploitation of prostitution, and
  • measures planned to ensure full and unhindered access to health care for women affected by sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.

Click here to read the report