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CATIE Get the Facts Campaign Launched to Stimulate HIV Treatment Discussions

(TORONTO) - On Wednesday, December 3, CATIE (The Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange) launched its Get the Facts Campaign. The campaign aims to empower people living with HIV to make well-informed treatment decisions and improve their health. At the launch celebration CATIE presented the first 3 posters and postcards in what will be a series of plain-language materials that encourage discussion about starting and adhering to HIV treatment and other topics. The posters and postcards will be available free to community organizations across Canada through the CATIE Ordering Centre at www.catie.ca.

More than 58,000 Canadians are living with HIV infection (including AIDS) and it is estimated that there are more than 2,300 new infections each year. Although HIV treatment options have improved, many people have questions and concerns about side effects and the difficulty of following complex medication regimes. Difficulty finding objective information in plain, easy-tounderstand language can be a barrier to starting treatment, particularly for members of marginalized communities

"People facing difficult treatment decisions need honest information about the improving medication options available and about the real challenges and risks that still remain. These new postcards and posters offer exactly that, with the goal of empowering individuals from all communities to make the treatment choices that will work best for them," says Laurie Edmiston, Executive Director of CATIE.

"Tragically, members of our communities, particularly our inner cities, continue to die from HIV/ AIDS without ever receiving treatment. New HIV treatment options are simpler, better tolerated and all persons living with HIV/ AIDS should be fully supported in finding one which works for them," says Dr. Chris Fraser of the Cool Aid Community Health Centre in Victoria, B.C.

It was Dr. Fraser who first suggested the development of simple, plain-language materials like those in the Get the Facts Campaign to CATIE Executive Director Laurie Edmiston. Dr. Fraser says approximately half of the people he sees at his clinic should be receiving treatment according to clinical guidelines but they haven't started yet because they are concerned about toxicity and the difficulty of following the regimen. He welcomes the Get the Facts Campaign posters and postcards as a way to further discussion with patients.

At the Get the Facts launch celebration, guest speaker Dr. Brian Cornelson discussed the importance of engaging street-based populations in treatment, the challenges, and how materials like those produced for the CATIE Get the Facts Campaign can help people overcome barriers, make informed choices and improve their health. Dr. Cornelson is an HIV primary care physician at the Health Centre at 410 Sherbourne, Director of HIV Family Practice Clinics at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, and Assistant Professor of Family and Community Medicine with the University of Toronto. Mr. Dave Pineau also shared his personal perspective on the need for information and outreach. Mr. Pineau was living on the streets in the 80's when he was infected with HIV by sharing a dirty needle. He believes that if information and support had been available then he would have started treatment much earlier and improved his health.

The CATIE Get the Facts Campaign has been supported financially through an unrestricted educational grant from Abbott Virology.

"Abbott is pleased to offer educational grants to support the work of organizations like CATIE. It is vital that they have unrestricted resources to develop independent, objective, easy-to-understand information materials that are based on the needs of people living with HIV," says Marie Prevost who is Liaison, Community Relations and Development for Abbott Virology.

CATIE is a national non-profit organization that, through knowledge exchange, works to reduce the transmission of HIV and to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV. As Canada's national knowledge exchange broker for HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support, CATIE offers a wide variety of free information services for people living with HIV and for the organizations that serve them. CATIE offers services in print, online, and by phone in English and in French. For more information, please visit www.catie.ca.

For more information about the CATIE Get the Facts Campaign or images of the new posters and postcards, please contact:

Alexis Beamer / Aliya Ladha
Cohn & Wolfe (416) 924-5700 ext. 4031 / 4094
alexis.beamer@cohnwolfe.ca / aliya.ladha@cohnwolfe.ca

Karen Luttrell
CATIE
1-800-263-1638 ext. 268
kluttrell@catie.ca


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