June 2nd marked an exciting day in the history of our fight against HIV in Canada with the launch of the I’m Ready research program in Canada. This initiative is dedicated to ending HIV in Canada by scaling up access to testing and increasing connections to care.
So, what is the program about?
This research program aims to reduce barriers to testing and reach the undiagnosed in Canada. By distributing 50,000 free HIV self testing kits across the country, I’m Ready hopes to increase the number of those who “know their status.” Open to anyone in Canada over the age of 18, the program’s goals are to reach those who are undiagnosed, get them connected to care, and learn through their research how to improve HIV testing and care in Canada, culminating in the ultimate goal of ending HIV in Canada.
The program has three main pillars: access to a free HIV self test kit, confidential access to the telehealth app through a mobile device or desktop, and improved connections to care. Participation is anonymous, and each person controls their pathway through the program, offering unique support tailored to the needs of individuals. By bringing support and care directly to communities, the I’m Ready research program helps meet people where it works best for them.
Joining the I’m Ready program is easy. All that is required is a smartphone and a connection to the internet. Once the app is downloaded, individuals will be asked to consent to the program, after which they will create a profile and answer a pre-test survey. The individual can choose to have up to three tests delivered to their home, another address, or choose to pick up a test(s) at any of the pickup locations. Once the test is received, people take the test. Once the test is complete, the individual will anonymously record the results in the app and will have the option of accessing more information regarding treatment, prevention, and health. In addition, follow-up surveys are sent through the app to ask where the individual is at and whether they have accessed care and support.
HIV Self Test kits
The program uses the INSTI 60-second HIV Antibody Test, which provides accurate, easy-to-read results in less than one minute. It is the perfect test to support the I’m Ready research program. We are honoured to support this initiative with the world’s fastest HIV self-test with easy-to-read results. INSTI provides the flexibility and confidentiality of completing the test in the privacy, at home or another location of the person’s choosing, allowing individuals to take charge of their health in a manner that works for them.
Using the INSTI test is easy; check out our quick training video here. The video explains how HIV is detected and how easy, simple, and discreet the INSTI self test is to use. As part of the I’m Ready research program, participants can receive up to three free INSTI HIV Self Test Kits.
App and Tele-health
Part of what makes the I’m Ready research program ground-breaking is its use of technology as central to help bridge the gap between the undiagnosed and testing access. The app is where individuals can register for the program, order and receive free INSTI HIV self testing kits, respond to surveys, and find and be referred to HIV services, information, and care. Research participants can also access peer navigation support through the app before, during, and after the test.
The app is available to download on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Watch this quick video to learn more about the app.
Care Connections and Support
An integral part of this research program is the secure telehealth service paired with the I’m Ready, Test app. The peer navigators can help answer questions about the program, guide people to HIV self testing information, and provide live, virtual support during the testing process. The peer navigators are a diverse and dedicated team from different regions across Canada. They are committed to increasing HIV testing access, care, and prevention and aim to support in a way to culturally safer, anti-racist, affirming of sexual orientations and gender identities, sex-positive, respectful, and judgment-free. The peer navigators bring their personal experience and have been trained specifically for this program to help guide individuals to the right HIV information and care. Peer support is available via text chat or, if the individual chooses, through a video call.
Finally, this team of peer support can point individuals in the direction of the different options for service and care for HIV care and prevention. However, it is worth noting that peer navigators are a support and guidance team and that if mental or physical health care is required, a medical professional should be consulted.
Check out this video and link for more information on the peer navigation component of the I’m Ready program.
Know your status. Connect to Care. Together, let’s end HIV in Canada. Check out www.readytoknow.ca to learn more today! Are you ready to know your status?