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The following statements outline positions that The AIDS Network (TAN) has taken on issues that affect our organization, its clients, and the communities we serve.  Because no one of these issues stands alone as more or less important than another, they are listed alphabetically by subject.

Criminalization

TAN is against the broad criminalization of HIV non-disclosure. In the overwhelming majority of cases, applying criminal law to HIV non-disclosure creates harm. Rather than introducing laws criminalizing HIV non-disclosure we need to change laws and policies that stand in the way of effective HIV prevention and treatment. Applying criminal law to HIV non-disclosure does nothing to prevent the spread of HIV or to to address the economic, social, and political marginalization of the communities we support. Instead, it adds to the stigma and precarity that already underscore the reality of those living with HIV/AIDS and goes against the core mission and values of our organization.

Disclosure of Health Status

TAN recognizes that the ongoing criminalization of HIV non-disclosure presents a considerable risk for the precarious and stigmatized communities we serve every day. This is especially important when it comes to how individuals disclose their health status to staff and volunteers at TAN. There are staff and organizational confidentiality policies in place to ensure that everyone has the right to reveal their health status to whomever they wish and on their own terms. We provide our staff with assistance to inform and enable our clients and volunteers to make such disclosures. TAN will not condone staff, volunteers, or clients disclosing anyone’s health status and will take action to review any such incidents and to take measures to prevent any recurrence.

Greater and Meaningful Involvement of People living with HIV/AIDS (GIPA/MIPA)

TAN is committed to helping people living with HIV/AIDS and their allies in our community in the following ways:

  • We are committed to Greater and Meaningful Involvement of People living with HIV/AIDS (GIPA/MIPA); GIPA/MIPA puts people living with HIV/AIDS at the centre and is grounded in human rights and the dignity of the full human being. We are committed to personal and social transformation.
  • We aim to transform all who live with, work in, and are affected by HIV/AIDS in Ontario.
  • We value community expertise in embracing the challenge for the betterment of society, inclusion over exclusion, a quest for integrity at all times, and the embodiment of self- determination.
  • We promote the evolution of thought, action and collaboration among us and with our allies.

Because GIPA/MIPA is about human struggles and aspirations. Ethics, empowerment, and accountability are its foundation.

We acknowledge that GIPA is never achieved once and for all. It is a goal and commitment that must be continually renewed. GIPA is a practice, not a project, and is similar to all other accountabilities of healthy HIV organizing and service delivery. Our practices in AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) must be continually re-evaluated in light of the changing realities of HIV/AIDS and of those living with it.

In July 2011, TAN endorsed and signed on to the Ontario Accord.

Harm Reduction

TAN’s policy on harm reduction aims to reduce drug-related harm experienced by individuals and communities, without necessarily reducing the consumption of drugs.

TAN recognizes that harm reduction is also part of a broader social justice and human rights movement that focuses on law and policy reform, raising awareness, and promoting respect.

TAN’s approach:

  • addresses the conditions of use along with the use itself and facilitates meeting people where they’re at as experts in their own lives;
  • weaves evidence-based practice with harm reduction and a focus on the broad determinants of health; and
  • helps clients avoid sharing needles and equipment to prevent blood borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis infections.

Our current programs include:

  • Needle and Syringe Program
  • The Van Program
  • Community Points Program

For more information about our programs please visit our website at http://www.aidsnetwork.ca.

Harm Reduction Advocacy Positions

In April 2021, The AIDS Network’s Board of Directors issued a position statement advocating for Harm Reduction policy advancement in two areas. The AIDS Network strongly advocates for expanded access to Safe Supply programs, and for decriminalizing the possession of illicit substances in quantities for personal use.

As overdose rates continue to rise, we understand that issues such as an unregulated drug supply and unpredictable toxicity, places People Who Use Drugs at great risk of overdose. As such, we believe that an increased access to a Safe Supply of pharmaceutical-grade medication is a key to reducing harms and saving the lives of People Who Use Drugs within our communities.

Safe supply is an approach that focuses on saving lives by prescribing pharmaceutical grade substances such as opioids and stimulants to individuals at risk of overdose, and does not include substitution or opioid agonist treatments, such as methadone, buprenorphine/suboxone, or slow-release oral morphine, as these therapies do not contain the mind/body altering properties that people seek in recreational drugs.

The AIDS Network also calls on all levels of government to take bold action towards decriminalizing possession of illicit substances for personal use. Harmful drug laws rooted in prohibitionist ideologies compound the fatal effects of the overdose crisis, and do not reflect evidence-based best practices. Communities that have adopted decriminalization policies have seen positive impacts such as reduced drug-related deaths, reduced transmission of Hepatitis C and HIV, lower drug use among youth, increased access to treatment, improved relations with law enforcement and reduced criminal justice overcrowding and costs.

The full position statement is available at www.aidsnetwork.ca/harm-reduction-advocacy-positions/

Housing and Human Rights

The AIDS Network recognizes the importance of housing as an important social determinant of health for the populations we serve. People at risk of, vulnerable to or living with HIV, hepatitis C and other related conditions need access to safe, affordable housing to engage in prevention and treatment strategies for their overall health and well-being.

People experiencing homelessness must be afforded equal human rights and dignity and that requires municipal governments and law enforcement to equally prioritize the health, well-being and safety of people experiencing homelessness, including those in encampments.

Clearing encampments does not solve the underlying issues, leaving people without shelter, and due to significant risks posed by pandemics or other environmental conditions may infringe upon the human rights of those living in encampments when acceptable alternatives are not provided.

We urge community leaders and providers take a housing first approach to helping people access non-congregate housing options.

The AIDS Network values the work of our fellow organizations on the front lines of harm reduction work in our communities, including Keeping Six, HAMSMaRT and the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic. We wholly endorse these organizations calls for city and law enforcement responses to issues arising from poverty and homelessness to be rooted in upholding the human rights and dignity of people experiencing homelessness.

People living with HIV on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART)

In April 2017, TAN endorsed the Prevention Access Campaign’s (PAC) Consensus Statement and signed on to the campaign as a Community Partner.

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