Dec. 1 marks World AIDS Day. This year's campaign is about “Getting to Zero": Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths.
Ottawa (30 Nov. 2011) - The 2011 UNAIDS, a joint United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS, reports that HIV infections are decreasing and more people have access to life-prolonging drugs.
The report shows that 2.7 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2010 - a reduction of 21 per cent since 1997 - while some 6.6 million people now have access to life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs, an increase of 1.35 million since 2009.
"Even in a very difficult financial crisis, countries are delivering results in the AIDS response," said Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, in a statement. "We have seen a massive scale-up in access to HIV treatment which has had a dramatic effect on the lives of people everywhere."
About 2,500 new cases of HIV are confirmed each year in Canada, and about 58,000 Canadians are living with HIV/AIDS.
Taking these numbers to heart, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), marks World AIDS Day by urging the Harper Government and Health Minister Aglukkaq to ramp up funding that supports the Getting to Zero goals.
It has been clearly demonstrated that supervised injection sites reduce the transmission of HIV (as well as Hepatitis C) and are a important prevention tool for reaching the goal of Zero New HIV Infections. A Supreme Court of Canada decision in September 2011 on Insite, the supervised injection cite in Vancouver, overturned a previous federal decision to close the project.
The Harper government needs to approve funding for similar sites in cities like Montreal, Victoria and Toronto.
As far as reaching the goal of Zero New HIV Infections, the Conservative government has wrapped themselves in red tape. A Bill and Melinda Gates project, in partnership with the Canadian government, to create a Canadian facility to produce HIV vaccine never got off the ground and is now delayed until 2017.
A more expedient approach to this project and other research projects around AIDS/HIV needs to be adopted.
On the Zero Discrimination goal, this year the Riel Institute with funding from the federal government, will provide aboriginal youth in Calgary access to culturally-focused and community-based information, resources and learning opportunities in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
However, the federal funding agreements with the AIDS Community Action Program will expire across Canada on March 31, 2012. No new commitment has been made and groups continue to ask Minister of Health Aglukkaq what her intentions are.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE