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How COVID Impacts Persons Living with HIV

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to shortages in the availability of many vital, life-saving drugs for other diseases including persons living with HIV. This is a result of land and air transportation shutdowns, less employees able to work to manufacture and distribute the drugs due to social distancing, and limited access to health care resources. The focus on creating medication for and responding to the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a lot of resources away from the protection and prevention of other diseases.

This has already had a big impact on people living with HIV – both for those who need antiretroviral (ARV) medication to survive and parents who need to take medication to prevent HIV from passing to their children. The World Health Organization reported that at least 36 countries have been experiencing difficulties with getting ARV drugs, 24 countries have a “critically low stock” of ARVs, and a total of 73 countries are facing the risk of their supply being affected. Even a short pause in treatment can have a major impact on someone’s health and increase their possibility of transferring HIV.

What does that mean for my immigration application and how can this information be useful?

If you are living with HIV and require medication and treatment, this information could help your application for status in Canada based on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds or if you’re applying as a Refugee.

Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds is an exception that allows the Visa Officer and/or Minister to grant status to someone who would normally not meet the requirements to be given status in Canada*. One of the areas that can be considered by the Officer is whether your life would be at risk because your country of nationality would not be able to provide acceptable health or medical care. Including information about whether your country is one of the countries that are experiencing shortages in HIV medication could strengthen your application.

Although there is typically a 12-month bar on filing an H&C application after your refugee claim, appeal or Federal Court application is dismissed, this bar does not apply to persons who face a risk to their health including persons living with HIV.

Similarly, on an application for refugee status, showing that if you were forced to go back to your home country you would not receive sufficient health or medical care (i.e. access to life saving treatment and medication) without facing persecution, could help your application to succeed.

If you would like to find out more information about how this could help you with your application, feel free to contact our office and book a consultation with an immigration and refugee lawyer. Emails can be sent to, or call 416-203-2899 ext. 30.

*Note: The government does not consider Humanitarian or Compassionate Grounds if you are inadmissible based on security grounds, human or international rights violations, or organized criminality. If you would like to know more about these areas and get information on whether one of these applies to you, please contact our office and set an appointment.



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