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Home  Covid19

Due to the increase in new COVID-19 infections attributed to the Omicron variant, ACT will be closing its offices to the public at the end of day this Thursday December 16, 2021 to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers, and service users. We are doing this based on local public health guidance to limit social interactions. 

We understand this isn’t easy and can appreciate these difficult times you’ve made it through with us so far. At ACT, we were settling in nicely to seeing people’s faces again (well, the half that wasn’t covered by a mask!). The good news is we’ve been through this before. Like then, we will still be there to support you through virtual means like Zoom, via text message, and on the phone.

What this means for you:

  • We will no longer be offering in-person one-on-one appointments. These appointments can be rescheduled to virtual(Zoom)/phone appointments with your counsellor/program coordinator.

What we’re doing:

  • ACT counsellors and program coordinators will be doing our best to reach out to services users in our programs and services. We will keep our social media and website up to date with programming, so you have access to the supports you need.

We remain here to support you, we WILL get through this together. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at ask@actoronto.org or by calling 416.340.2437. Feel free to follow us on social media to keep up to date – we’ll send around another email when we’re able to welcome you back into our spaces.

Until then, take care and stay safe.

 

HIV & COVID-19
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Are you a person living with HIV? Here's what you need to know about COVID-19 & HIV:

The Body: The HIV AIDS Resource:

Are people living with HIV at greater risk for getting the new coronavirus?

Scientists aren't certain yet. But if you're on HIV treatment and have a relatively good CD4 count, then your immune system is in a good place to prevent infection.

If a person with HIV has the coronavirus, are they more likely to get very sick or die?

We don't have research on this yet. But as long as your immune system is healthy -- i.e., you're taking HIV medications and your CD4 count is not low -- that will help fight off infection.

Does a person's CD4 (T-cell) count affect their coronavirus risk?

There's no research on this yet. But a "normal" CD4 count -- which, depending on the person, can be anywhere from 450 to 1,100 -- can protect a person from many illnesses.

How can people with HIV protect themselves from the coronavirus?

Stay on HIV medications, and try to stay physically active and eat nutritionally. Beyond that: wash your hands, avoid travel, practice social distancing, rest, and avoid stress.

How should a person with HIV prepare for possible coronavirus infection?

Try to obtain at least a 30-day supply of HIV meds (90, if you can). Tell people close to you what medications you're on. Talk with your care provider about what to do if you get sick.

Can HIV meds prevent or treat coronavirus infection?

There is zero reliable research to date supporting the effectiveness of any HIV medications in preventing or treating COVID-19.

What should a person with HIV do if they have the coronavirus?

Keep taking your HIV meds. Stay home -- if you need to leave for medical care, call ahead. If you live with someone else, don't share any personal items. Clean surfaces frequently. Consider wearing a mask.

For more information check out this article from The Body, What You Need to Know About the New Coronavirus and HIV:

www.thebody.com/health/hiv-coronavirus-covid-19?ap=2007&fbclid=IwAR0KvmJld_1mdWSEeDKNKMh4W2_sc-JzKZQfelgCfTJJMiu4L7kxpNHLoWI


CATIE: Canada's Source for HIV and Hepatitis C Information:

CATIE Resource on COVID-19: Insight from the front lines of HIV, hepatitis C and harm reduction:

www.catie.ca/en/webinars/coping-covid-19-insight-front-lines-hiv-hepatitis-c-and-harm-reduction


 

Condom Distribution Network
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With the closure of bars, bathhouses and many businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, ACT has set up a new condom distribution network in partnership with local pharmacies in Toronto’s downtown core to ensure that free prophylactics remain available.

Visit the Meds Experts Clinic and Pharmacy (located at 461 Church St), The PrEP Clinic (located at 401-344 Bloor St West), and The Village Pharmacy (located at 473 Church St. and/or 535 Yonge St), and Maple Leaf Medical Pharmacy (located at 14 College St.) to obtain male/external condoms and lube packets.

If you are unable to travel, The PrEP Clinic is offering free shipping of male/external and female/internal condoms and lube to anyone in Ontario. Naloxone kits (nasal spray), which serve to temporarily reverse an opiod overdose, are also available upon request. To place an order please e-mail: info@prepclinic.ca or call/text them at 416-420-1250.

For more information regarding condoms, including where you can further access free prophylactics and lube, visit the city’s website here or e-mail ACT’s Gay Men’s Resource and Community Education Coordinator at aclarke@actoronto.org

You can also check out our resource on external and internal condoms here.


 

Harm Reduction
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We encourage folk to maintain social isolation during this time to avoid risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 during this pandemic. If you are in need of supplies or support, please consider the following resources in community at this time. Stock up on supplies so you do not have to go back out into community to access more supplies, and try not to share or re-use equipment, as this can lead to infection.

 

  • The Works is open Mon-Sat from 1:30 - 8:00 pm for naloxone and supply distribution.
  • Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre (Parkdale and Queen West locations) are open for harm reduction supplies and supervised consumption sites. Regent park is open Monday, Wednesday & Thursday from 10 am -12 pm;1 - 4 pm, Tuesday from 12 - 4 pm & Friday 10 am -12 pm & 1:30 pm.
  • Sherbourne Health Centre has a self-service cart in the parking lot from 9 am - 5 pm for harm reduction supplies.
  • Street Health is open 10 am - 4 pm Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday & 11 am - 4 pm on Tuesday.
  • Consumption and Treatment Services at Fred Victor are operating at regular hours, subject to change.
  • St. Michael’s Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinic still running Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 9 am to 11 pm for new clients, detox or psychiatry is closed, but acute addiction related support issues are available.
  • Call the Ontario-wide 24/7 Overdose Prevention Hotline: 1-888-688-NORS (6677). This connects you with a peer who can stay on the line with you as you use your drug.
  • Naloxone kit access upon release at Toronto South Detention Centre: Naloxone kits are available for people on release at TSDC but they must ask a correctional officer at discharge and a nurse will bring it to them.
  • Harm Reduction Frontline Worker COVID Information Sharing Call: everyone Wednesday afternoon 2:30-4:30. To participate by teleconference: 416-915-6530, and use meeting access code: 802 539 305. To participate online use this link: https://toronto.webex.com/toronto/j.php?MTID=ma3a7ab2974c542b4e20a60f9d1ba0abf , and use the meeting password Toronto2020.

 

 

Social Isolation & Mental Health
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Why is Social Isolation Important and How Can You Cope With Social Isolation and COVID-19 Anxiety:


The 519: Emotional Self Care:

www.the519.org/covid19-emotional-selfcare?fbclid=IwAR3fvRDXQYDFUvHP0l5la5OcuRsFcCLu8-HxsHWPLpjLUz8da1mvB44VPLA


E-Mental Health: Mental Health Services, Help and Support in Your Community:

www.ementalhealth.ca/Ontario/Crisis-Lines-including-Telephone-Online-and-Chat/index.php


CAMH: Mental Health and COVID-19 Pandemic:

www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-health-and-covid-19


ACT

Loneliness:

 

For the most up to date info about ACTs programs and services, check out our latest Newsletter:

mailchi.mp/actoronto.org/unprecedentedtimes


 

Testing (HIV & STIs) & PrEP Access
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Regarding the City of Toronto's Response to COVID-19 and sexual health centers: 

"To help slow the rate of the COVID-19 infection, the City of Toronto has scaled back and/or modified the delivery of non-essential services and closed many facilities. The tentative date for services to resume is April 5. The details on some www.toronto.ca pages may not be accurate at this time." - Toronto.ca


Hassle Free Clinic will be open BY APPOINTMENT ONLY as of March 17. 

  • "Hassle Free -Men, Women & Trans clinic- will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. From 12 - 5 pm. We will only see people for treatment, STI contacts, birth control prescriptions or plan B. At this time; there will be NO HIV TESTING, NO ROUTINE STI TESTING & NO VACCINATION." - Hassle Free's website 
  • No bathhouse testing at Steamworks or Spa-Excess; and no satellite testing at 519, St. Stephen’s, ACT, etc.
  • Clinic is doing testing/treatment if you have symptoms or if you have been in contact with someone who tested positive for an STI. Just no routine HIV/STI testing without symptoms.
  • Virtual Care Clinic
  • HIV and syphilis testing available by appointment only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during clinic hours. Book appointment by calling 416-922-0566 or visiting their website at www.hasslefreeclinic.org 

           A doctor will speak to you either on the phone or via videoconferencing to help diagnose and treat you for whatever your sexual health concern may be. Prescriptions can be sent to your  closest pharmacy and you will be able to collect your own specimens for submission at the clinic. Ontario health coverage is not needed -- everyone  receives free care!

All genders and sexualities are welcome.

Please book your appointment by calling 416-922-0566


The AIDS & Sexual Health Info Line at 416-392-2437 is currently down. 


The Village Pharmacy (535 Yonge Street) continues to offer HIV Testing every Friday from 10am-5pm and every Saturday from 10 am  - 5 pm. Those interesting in receiving a test must call 416-960-2323. They will be required to answer screening questions over the phone first, and then the Village Pharmacy will schedule an appointment for their nominal (not rapid/point of care) HIV Test.


Planned Parenthood (36 Prince Arthur Blvd) is only doing rapid and anonymous HIV testing by appointment between Monday to Friday. Their telephone number is 416-961-0113.


PrEP Access

Maple Leaf PrEP Clinic

Tel. # 416-920-1991

New patients: Maple Leaf will not be accepting new patients at this time. Those interested can be added to a call back list once normal activities resume.

Existing patients:

  • All existing appointments will be conducted by telephone.
  • After the phone call, the prescription will be faxed to the pharmacy of your choice. They request that you have your pharmacy’s fax number on hand.
  • To reduce stress on labs, bloodwork will not be requisitioned (unless the physician deems it necessary during the phone call)

Other:

  • All STI testing and vaccinations have been suspended.
  • Treatment for patients who have positive STI results OR have had a partner with a confirmed infection will continue. By appointment only. Please call for next steps.
  • Those who absolutely need to visit the clinic are advised to practice social distancing and to come alone.

MedsExpert Clinic + Pharmacy

Tel. # 416-922-MEDS (6337)

New patients:

  • New patients are being accepted at this time.
  • New patients are asked to use their prep assessment online tool to book appointments www.medsexpert.ca/prep.

Existing patients:

  • Specialists will consult with clients via telephone or other approved telemedicine methods.
  • Prescriptions will be delivered directly to the pharmacy

Other:

  • Operating under normal business hours.
  • Refill requests available online at www.medsexpert.ca/refills
  • Free delivery across Canada in 1 business day.
  • medsExpert will be able to assist clients in quarantine, those who need early refills, and a longer supply of medications to last through the coming months.
  • All clients are screened for COVID-19 and anyone who either meets the case definition through active screening by the pharmacist or self identifies as meeting the case definition while at the pharmacy will be separated from other visitors and staff so that they are at least 2 meters apart and given a surgical/procedure mask while pharmacy staff call their local public health unit and a plan for travel and further COVID-19 assessment is made.

The PrEP Clinic

Tel. # 416-420-1250

New Patients:

  • New patients are being accepted at this time.
  • New patients must have blood work done prior to receiving a prescription (lab test will be requisitioned).
  • Services are primarily provided online through video chat using their app.

Existing patients: Refills will be reauthorized based on assessment of medication adherence and absence of symptoms (lab test may not be requisitioned)

Other:

  • Free shipping to client’s doors across the province is available so they do not need to go out. 
  • Monday walk-in clinic and test collection at the Toronto site are following both passive and active screening - as well as upholding strict sanitization procedures.

 

Strategies for a Gender-Inclusive Response to COVID-19
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As the HIV Sector continues to work with community partners to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, WHAI is
committed to supporting the integration of a gendered approach. Our hope is that the context and tips shared here will help to
inform your work while aligning with WHAI’s community capacity building objectives.