We speak out for changes that could improve the lives of people with HIV and HCV in BC.
The Pacific AIDS Network (PAN) is the collective voice representing members on issues that impact the health of people our member organizations serve. These issues can include scope and delivery of services, policy developments and directions, funding levels and availability, and social inequities affected by government decision-making.
This is a sample of our work in government communications.
Federal Funding (2016)
At PAN’s 2016 Executive Directors Summit, one of the two key topics that participants identified as pressing for the session was the concerns regarding the process, outcomes and next steps of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund (CAF). Earlier in the fall, PHAC announced the decisions of the funding competition’s Letter of Intent (LOI) process, and those decisions had significant implications for HIV and HCV service delivery in BC. During the Summit, PAN member ED’s and other leadership discussed key messages (initially developed by the PAN Board of Directors at their face-to-face board meeting the day before) for a letter from PAN to the Minister of Health Dr. Philpott.
Following the ED Summit, a letter containing these key messages was sent to Dr. Philpott on November 2nd, and PAN received a response letter from the Minister on December 13th. The Health Minister’s response invited a meeting between PAN and the President of PHAC, Dr. Mithani; as well as the Chief Public Health Officer.
A face-to-face meeting between PAN senior staff, Dr. Mithani and two key PHAC regional representatives was subsequently arranged and took place in Vancouver on January 17th, 2017. During this meeting, the concerns held by PAN and its members about the CAF funding process, decisions, and implications on service delivery were discussed. Dr. Mithani acknowledged those concerns. The President also sought feedback on PAN’s recommendations as to how to potentially improve: funding competitions and communications regarding PHAC funding priorities in the future. A key topic of conversation was how to effectively evaluate PHAC funded community-based programs and thereby ensure “maximum impact”. Together, PAN and PHAC committed to working together to maximize the collective impact of community support and services addressing HIV, HCV and other STBBIs.
Moving forward, PAN will continue to follow up with PHAC staff at regional and national levels, as required, to best support various member organizations through the transitional and “top up” funding processes. Along with our member organizations, and allied stakeholders and partners throughout BC and Canada, PAN will also continue to call more funding for the sector (including advocating for dedicated funds for HCV and other STBBIs). If you have any questions regarding PHAC’s HIV/HCV CAF or PAN’s work on this critical issue, please contact PAN’s Executive Director, J. Evin Jones via email [email protected].
HPV Vaccine Advocacy
On January 14, 2015 PAN wrote a letter to the Honourable Terry Lake, Minister of Health,, to request that the Minister consider broadening the current HPV vaccine program in BC to include all genders, and in particular, those living with or at-risk of HIV and HCV. A letter of response was received from Warren O’Briain, Executive Director, Population and Public Health Division.
Subsequently PAN launched an advocacy initiative in March 2015, which involved writing to all of the Executive Directors of PAN member organizations to encourage them to write their own letter to the Minister of Health advocating for “accessible, free HPV vaccination program for all genders and especially for people living with or at-risk for HIV and HCV” as well as calling for a universal, school-based vaccination program for boys as well as girls.
In part because of this work, in July 2015 the Ministry of Health announced an expansion of the current BC publicly-funded HPV vaccination to boys and young men — who are gay, bisexual or MSM or who are otherwise at risk, up to the age of 26. Starting September 1st 2015, this expanded eligibility of BC’s publicly funded HPV vaccine program, for boys and young men at a higher risk of contracting HPV, included HIV-positive males, 9 to 26 years of age (inclusive of those who may not yet be sexually active and are questioning their sexual orientation).
PAN also worked to collate and gather research relating to the HPV vaccine, HIV and gay men and other MSM in the blog post titled: Possibilities for Protection: HPV, HIV and MSM.
On June 28th, 2016, PAN again wrote to the Honourable Terry Lake, Minister of Health to respectfully reiterate our request that BC’s HPV Vaccination program be expanded, to create a gender neutral vaccine program that is truly universal in nature, AND to take measures to ensure free access to this vaccine for all people living with HIV/AIDS, regardless of age, sexual orientation or gender. As the letter states, the Pacific AIDS Network believes that providing the vaccination at no cost to people living with HIV/AIDS, should be an essential part of our public health care system. From a prevention perspective, the HPV vaccine should also be provided on a gender-neutral basis, as a means of both averting HPV and associated cancers, as well as reducing the incidence of HIV transmission.
In a letter dated July 26th, 2016, Minister Lake responded to our letter. In his response, the Honourable Minister notes that decisions with regards to the province’s vaccine program(s) are made on an annual basis by the Communicable Disease Policy Advisory Committee, chaired by the Provincial Health Officer. When making decisions, the Committee takes into account a number of factors, including efficacy, burden of illness, cost-effectiveness, feasibility of delivery and public acceptability. The letter further states, “Recent analyses have shown that a universal male HPV vaccine program is not cost-effective at current vaccine prices, particularly in jurisdictions where female uptake of the vaccine is higher than 50 percent, as it has been in BC since the program began in 2008. In this context, the Committee has recommended HPV immunization for school-aged males be considered only if the vaccine becomes available at a price substantially less than its current cost.” The Minister also states: “I am acquainted with the risks associated with HPV-related disease among people co-infected with HIV; to date, the Committee has not recommended a universal HPV vaccination program for individuals living with HIV.”
Emergency Intervention Disclosure Act
On May 9, 2012 PAN met with the Honourable Margaret MacDiarmid, Minister of Labour to express our concerns about Bill 39, the Emergency Intervention Disclosure Act, into law. The stated goal of the legislation is to enhance the safety of first responders. PAN expressed concerns that this legislation is not evidence-based and violates a persons’ rights to privacy and security.
On June 15/12 PAN wrote to the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, to formally lodge a standing request with the Provincial Health Office that we be notified when the provisions are invoked in the province and under what circumstances.
Read the full letter to Dr. Perry Kendall.
Read Dr. Perry Kendall’s letter of response.
Federal Funding (2011)
On June 6, 2011, HIV/AIDS Networks from across Canada sent a joint letter addressed Federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq regarding the future of the AIDS Community Action Plan program through the Public Health Agency of Canada. Among other things, the letter requests that no further funding cuts be given to the ACAP regional budget as current levels are already creating hardship among ASOs. Further, the letter requests copies of the final consultation report on ACAP, conducted by the firm of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, be given to those organizations that participated in the process.
Read the full letter to Federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq.
Federal Funding (2011)
In the fall of 2010, multiple organizations throughout BC received confirmation of HCV funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Due to the federal elections, contribution agreements for these projects were not signed and community organizations have been waiting to hear on the status of these agreements.
Read the joint letter from PAN and the Pacific Hepatitis C Network to Federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq sent June 2, 2011.
Provincial Commitment to Community-Based Response Role in Seek and Treat for Optimal Prevention (STOP)
As a result of communication in 2009 (see below) with the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport, PAN was invited to meet with the Honourable Ida Chong on February 24, 2010. Read a copy of the briefing note presented at that meeting.
Read a copy of the thank you letter that was sent to Minister Chong following the face-to-face meeting on February 24, 2010.
Community-Based Response in the Seek and Treat for Optimal Prevention (STOP) Rollout
In the Spring 2009 meeting, the member organizations of PAN set a number of priorities for the Network over the coming year. One of the requests made was that PAN prepare a communications brief for the Minister of Health and Minister of Health Living and Sport, describing the state of the HIV/AIDS epidemic presently in BC as well as outlining the importance of community-based AIDS organizations and their role in addressing the epidemic.