This December 1st is the 32nd World AIDS Day. How far have we come since 1988?
We have made massive gains in our understanding of the disease. We have developed medications that allow people living with HIV to live long and healthy lives. We have the scientific consensus about U=U (Undetectable=Untransmittable), that people living with HIV who take their medication as prescribed are unable to transmit the virus to their sexual partners.
However, we continue to face challenges. Like the rest of the population, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on many Canadians living with HIV. Many services that they rely on have been limited or shut down due to the pandemic, and the future of community-based organizations that serve them has been thrown into question due to lack of funding.
It is more important than ever that we continue to advocate for the care and support of Canadians living with HIV through adequate funding for programs and services. HIV is not going away – according to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s 2018 Surveillance Report, 2,561 Canadians were diagnosed with HIV, a 25.5% increase from 2014, and we know that this number will only increase over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On this World AIDS Day, we reiterate our commitment to support people living with HIV across the country, work toward increasing knowledge about HIV and reducing stigma, and to increase access to HIV testing. We can get to zero new infections in Canada – but we won’t do so unless we put in the work.