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How has COVID-19 impacted the delivery of STBBI-related services, including harm reduction services, in Canada? Published: ()

COVID-19 has changed how people in Canada access healthcare services. To better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the ability of healthcare service providers to deliver sexually transmitted and blood-borne infection (STBBI) prevention, testing and treatment services, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) conducted a survey in November and December 2020. The anonymous survey included community-based organizations, public health units and other service providers who directly deliver STBBI-related services, including harm reduction and drug treatment services in Canada. These service providers were invited to complete an online survey about their ability to deliver, and the demand for STBBI-related healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, 416 service providers from across Canada participated.

Respondents were classified by the type of service they provided:

Depending on the type of service that the service provider delivered, the demand for services and the ability to provide services varied.


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66% of STBBI prevention, testing and treatment service providers experienced a decrease in demand for their services


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Almost half (44%) of STBBI prevention, testing and treatment service providers experienced a decrease in their ability to deliver their services


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40% of harm reduction service providers and drug treatment service providers experienced an increase in demand for their services


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63% of harm reduction service providers and drug treatment service providers experienced no change or a slight change in their ability to deliver their services


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21% of service providers that provide support and treatment services for people living with HIV and/or hepatitis C experienced both a decreased demand for and ability to deliver their services


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Service providers demonstrated resilience and innovation by developing new remote service delivery models that met the challenges created by the pandemic

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Of all service providers, 81% provided remote services since the beginning of the pandemic. Of these,

  • 20% created new remote services for the first time
  • 46% created new remote services in addition to current remote services
  • 15% continued with their existing remote services without any new services

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Increased demand for referrals

Since the beginning of the pandemic, STBBI-related service providers, including harm reduction services, reported an increased demand for referrals related to:

  • food security
  • housing and/or emergency shelters
  • health and mental health services
  • harm reduction services


Changes to staffing since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic

Increases and decreases

To learn more about COVID-19, go to Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).


Citation:

Survey of the impact of COVID-19 on the ability to provide STBBI prevention, testing and treatment including harm reduction services in Canada. Public Health Agency of Canada, Centre for Communicable Diseases and Infection Control. 2021.

Date modified: