Narrowing the Gap in HIV Treatment Access

November 7, 2023


Long-Acting Medication: A Milestone in HIV Care

We’ve come a long way in HIV care since the first HIV medication was developed. With the support of the BC-CfE and their Drug Treatment Program, those of us living with HIV in BC have access to free HIV treatments. 

In March of 2020, Health Canada approved a ground-breaking long-acting HIV medication. Instead of taking pills every day, this medication is administered as an injection once a month or every two months. For many of us living with HIV, this opens the door to more safety, privacy, convenience, and consistency. These factors can improve how we receive and continue our HIV care. 

Limited Access in BC

Here’s the thing: In BC, we don’t have the same level of access to long-acting HIV medication as some other provinces in Canada. Folks in Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, and Quebec have access to publicly funded long-acting medication. In these cases, decisions about long-acting medications are between individuals and their healthcare providers.

In BC, it’s different. We have to apply for long-acting HIV drug coverage. Our applications are then individually reviewed by the BC-CfE. Unfortunately, we don’t have a full understanding of how eligibility is determined. This means that if we have decided with our doctors that long-acting medication is a good choice for our treatment, we still might not be able to get access. 

If we have applied for long-acting medication and been denied, we might be able to contact our healthcare providers or the BC-CfE for more information. But, right now, there isn’t much information available about who gets access and who does not. We hope to get more information about the BC-CfE’s decision making process and will share this with folks once it is available.

What can we do to increase treatment access?

AIDS Vancouver is running a letter-writing campaign for equitable long-acting injectable coverage. We can send a pre-written letter here to expand treatment access here. By advocating together, we can move toward a future where every person's needs and preferences are respected, including our choice of treatment.