Facts not fear: COVID-19

YouthCO is following COVID-19 updates closely. We are continuing to connect with youth most impacted by HIV and Hep C during this time while following the COVID-19 precautions in place. We know that these precautions help us to take care of our communities, including our staff. YouthCO will follow the measures suggested and required by the provincial and federal governments in ways that centre our mission and our values.
As much as possible, YouthCO staff are working from home to provide peer education and support to youth impacted by HIV and Hep C. Our physical office location is closed. Phone calls and mail are being forwarded to our team. To find out about our current events, please visit www.youthco.org/events. For YouthCO programming and services, including access to safer sex and harm reduction supplies, please get in touch!  We can be reached by phone at 1-855-968-8426, or email at info@youthco.org.

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Up-to-date information about novel coronavirus COVID-19 is available from the BC Centre for Disease Control at http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19

If we need medical care related to COVID-19 because we think we may have been exposed to, or are experiencing, symptoms of COVID-19, we can call 8-1-1. We can also use the self-assessment at https://covid19.thrive.health/.

For non-medical information about COVID-19, we can call 1-800-COVID19 for information in more than 110 languages. We can also get information about COVID-19 from the Public Health Agency of Canada by calling the telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397.


COVID-19 Information

Whatever our HIV or Hep C status, we can take important steps to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in our communities. We know that many of these strategies are very difficult or impossible if we are living outside, in a tent, in an SRO (single room occupancy), or in a shelter. Whether we can use some, all, or none of these strategies, there are many ways we can take care of each other during this time:
  • Staying away from other people as much as possible: whether or not we are feeling sick, we may be passing COVID-19 to other people or coming into contact with this virus when we are within 6 feet of each other. If we are sick or may have come into contact with COVID-19 through travel or spending time with people who are known to have COVID-19, staying home is especially important so we do not expose other people to COVID-19.
  • Staying connected to peer support, community, and services whether in person, by phone, or online can help us cope in this time, and continue to get the services we need.
  • Washing our hands with soap and water, or using hand sanitizer, before eating, after sneezing or coughing, and after being in shared spaces.
  • Paying extra attention to when we may be needing a refill for any medications we are taking to ensure we have a supply of medication in case we do get sick.
There is not a lot of specific information available about how COVID-19 impacts those of us living with HIV and/or Hep C at this point. COVID-19 has more of an impact for those of us with a compromised immune system. A lot of different factors contribute to how our immune system works, including whether or not we are currently taking HIV or Hep C medications. If we are living with HIV, and are consistently taking our HIV medication, we are not expected to be at higher risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. 
There is information about harm reduction and overdose response in the context of COVID-19 from the BCCDC:

YouthCO will continue to respond to information provided by BC's Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, the First Nations Health Authority, and the World Health Organization.

Reach out at 1-855-968-8426 or info@youthco.org for more information or to suggest an edit to this post.

YouthCO's office is located on the unceded traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh people. Our programs take place on unceded, ancestral, and traditional territories of many Indigenous nations across what is now called BC.

YouthCO believes that all youth have the right to accessible and affirming information about our health. We also know each of us has a unique relationship to our bodies, sex, sexuality, substance use, and harm reduction. For many of us, the words other people use for our bodies and their functions are not the words we use for ourselves. Throughout our website, YouthCO uses words for bodies and sex that we know will not reflect the full diversity of our communities. We have tried to, where possible, be as expansive with our language as we know how to while being as specific as possible. As youth leading the HIV movement, we too are learning about the best words for our experiences and do not do this perfectly. We invite any feedback about the language used on our website to help us move forward in the best ways for all youth in our communities!