Call for Equitable Drug Access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP) Following Health Canada Approval of APRETUDE by ViiV.

The OAN Working Group Addressing Anti-Black Racism Calls for Equitable Drug Access following Health Canada Approval pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP) APRETUDE.

On May 13, 2024, ViiV Healthcare, the global specialist HIV company, announced that Health Canada has granted approval for APRETUDE (cabotegravir tablets and extended release injectable suspension) for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV-1 infection in at risk individuals who are HIV-1 negative. 

While community-based service providers delivering Canada’s HIV and AIDS response are pleased to learn of APRETUDE ‘s approval, we fear this, and other HIV prevention and treatment medications will remain inaccessible to many African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) people who continue to experience significant barriers to accessing HIV prevention treatments like APRETUDE. This inaccessibility is only compounded by systemic anti-Black racism within healthcare systems. 

The Public Health Agency of Canada has detailed the varied barriers to health equity faced by Black Canadians in their own resource, Social determinants and inequities in health for Black Canadians: A Snapshot, and the disparities in HIV-related health outcomes not only for Black communities, but all communities disproportionately impacted by HIV, in the HIV in Canada Surveillance Report to December 31, 2021.

Without an equitable, low-barrier and cost-free mechanism to ensure wider access to APRETUDE and other PrEP, this treatment will be out of reach to many in the Black community. In turn, this leaves Canada unable to meet its local, provincial, and international commitments to eliminate HIV as a public health threat by eliminating new infections by 2030.

In solidarity with African, Caribbean, and Black people, and community-based HIV service providers working across Canada, the OAN Working Group Addressing Anti-Black Racism calls on the Health Canada to and the Federal Government to collaborate to: 

  • Establish a specific education, access and coverage program for African, Caribbean, and Black Canadians using proven-effective COVID vaccine programs as a template for delivering low-barrier HIV prevention treatments.
  • Funding for community-based organizations and AIDS Service Organizations serving African, Caribbean, and Black people to deliver targeted education, support to treatment for African, Caribbean, and Black communities about APRETUDE and other HIV prevention medications. 

Finally, following the recent launch of Government of Canada’s sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI) action plan 2024-2030, we urge the federal government to immediately begin consultation with community-based service providers and Black people living with and most at risk for HIV and AIDS to articulate and launch a focused and resourced Black HIV and AIDS Strategy. 


 The Ontario AIDS Network Working Group Addressing Anti-Black Racism 


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