• Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Canada's Minister of Health calls for end to stigma on World AIDS Day

OTTAWA: Every year on December 1, World AIDS Day reminds us to recognize the strength and resilience of people living with HIV, to remember those we have lost and to acknowledge both the important progress that has been made in addressing HIV and AIDS and the work that remains to be done.

In Canada, it is estimated that more than 63,000 people are living with HIV and AIDS, and that 1 in every 7 people infected with the disease has not been diagnosed or is unaware of their infection.

Today, to recognize World AIDS Day, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, officially endorsed the Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) campaign that promotes new scientific evidence that indicates that when an individual is being treated for HIV and maintains a suppressed viral load, there is effectively no risk of sexual transmission. Canada is the first government to sign on to this global campaign that will directly improve the lives of people living with HIV and reduce stigma.

The Minister took part in a red ribbon flag raising ceremony on Parliament Hill with HIV and AIDS organizations from across the country. She later attended the World AIDS Day and Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week kick‑off event co-hosted by the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development, and the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada.

Yesterday, the Minister held a roundtable discussion with people living with HIV from across Canada to better understand their experiences and as part of the Government of Canada's efforts to reduce stigma. Stigma remains one of the greatest barriers for Canadians in accessing HIV prevention, testing, treatment and support.

The Minister also announced support for a new pan-Canadian campaign to reduce stigma and its effects on HIV prevention, testing and access to treatment among gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit and queer people.

The Government of Canada continues to work towards achieving our global HIV targets, including ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, and meeting the UNAIDS 90-90-90 treatment targets by 2020:

90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status;
90% of people with diagnosed HIV infection are on treatment; and
90% of people receiving treatment have viral suppression.

Quotes

Canada is committed to preventing new HIV infections and achieving our global targets. The courage of people living with HIV inspires me. The continued support of initiatives like the Undetectable = Untransmittable campaign are critical to ending HIV-related stigma. Ending stigma will also go a long way in helping us prevent new infections, reach the undiagnosed, and ensure that people living with HIV receive the care, treatment and support they need.

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

I am thankful to all the individuals and organizations across Canada who devote their time and efforts to addressing HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections. I continue to be a strong proponent for the Undetectable = Untransmittable (U = U) message. This is a principle firmly grounded in science but, more importantly, it is a way forward for treatment and care; it has the potential to change society's views and help end the stigma that can isolate, harm and hinder people living with HIV.

Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

Quick Facts

Worldwide, there were about 1.8 million new cases of HIV in 2016. In 2016, approximately 36.7 million people were living with HIV around the world, and 19.5 million of them were receiving antiretroviral therapy.
In Canada, it is estimated that more than 63,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS. Among those, as of 2016, an estimated 86% were diagnosed, 81% of those diagnosed were on treatment, and 91% of people on treatment had suppressed viral loads.
In 2017, a total of 2,402 new cases of HIV were reported in Canada, which is equivalent to seven Canadians being diagnosed every day.
The Government of Canada is investing $132 million over five years through the HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund to support the work of community-based organizations in addressing HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections.
The Government is investing more than $87 million in 2018-19 to support surveillance, prevention, public health guidance, knowledge development and a robust pan‑Canadian community-based response to HIV, hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections.
The Government of Canada is a proud supporter of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Canada has pledged $804 million for the 2017 to 2019 replenishment period.


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