“In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us all of the importance of community and has shown us that no one is safe until everyone is safe. This year’s World AIDS Day theme, ‘Global solidarity, shared responsibility, recognizes that, like COVID-19, fighting HIV and AIDS requires global cooperation and united commitment.” – Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau
A Statement from the Prime Minister of Canada
Posted December 1st, 2020 on Niagara At Large
Ottawa, Ontario –The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement on World AIDS Day – December 1st, 2020
“Today (December 1st), on World AIDS Day <https://www.unaids.org/en/World_AIDS_Day>, we show our solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS, here in Canada and around the world. We mourn the loved ones we have lost, and renew our commitment to supporting those who live with HIV and ending this epidemic and the stigma that surrounds it.
“In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us all of the importance of community and has shown us that no one is safe until everyone is safe. This year’s World AIDS Day theme, ‘Global solidarity, shared responsibility’ <https://spark.adobe.com/page/OdpIRTRApOghp/>, recognizes that, like COVID-19, fighting HIV and AIDS requires global cooperation and united commitment.
“Canada recognizes the value of the international community working together, particularly when it comes to public health. That is why the Government of Canada continues to invest in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria <https://www.theglobalfund.org/en/>.
Canada’s pledge of $930.4 million to the fund will support the prevention and treatment of these diseases while helping to address gender and social inequalities, like poverty, that further their spread. In 2019 alone, the Global Fund provided antiretroviral therapy for 20.1 million people.
“The government has also taken action to combat HIV and AIDS here at home. We have made important investments in HIV and AIDS research, and launched the Five-Year Action Plan on Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infections <https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/reports-publications/accelerating-our-response-five-year-action-plan-sexually-transmitted-blood-borne-infections.html#a0-2>.
Our government was also the first to officially endorse the Undetectable = Untransmittable campaign to help recognize that people who maintain a suppressed viral load through HIV treatment have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to someone else. These investments and actions are part of Canada’s ongoing commitment to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, and to reduce stigma.
“For three decades, people living with HIV and their communities have shown the world what success looks like when it comes to community-based public health responses. Though there has been much progress, there remains a lot of work to be done – especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to make sure that progress and lessons learned from the HIV and AIDS response are not lost in our response to COVID-19 – and that our lessons learned from the COVID-19 response are applied to our HIV and AIDS response.
“Many vulnerable people hit hardest by COVID-19 around the world continue to lose their lives to the virus at rates higher than everyone else – some are also affected by HIV and AIDS, and COVID-19 has intensified the challenges they face.
Yet, the crisis has also been an opportunity for Canadians to come together in new ways to support one another. From coast to coast to coast, Canadians have taken action to protect those most at-risk, including shopping for neighbours, picking up mail for friends, and dropping off medication for family members.
“Everyone deserves access to adequate and equal health treatment, care, and support. The Government of Canada will continue to promote and defend comprehensive sexual and reproductive health rights, and support efforts to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic and the stigma that surrounds it. Together, we will meet this global health challenge.”
A Footnote by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –
When I am reminded of the AIDS epidemic, one of the first things that come to mind for me was a time about a decade ago when I went looking for the grave of American author Norman Mailer in a sprawling cemetery at the outer tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in an old community called Provincetown.
Up to his death in 2007 at age 84, Mailer spent many years of his life living in this town surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay.
As well as being an old fishing town, Provincetown has long been a magnet for writers of fiction, of poetry, and of plays. In the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s, those they called bohemians flocked there from all over the continent.
By the 1950s, there were the beatniks followed by hippies and other members of the so-called counterculture of the 1960s, and for many decades now P-Town, as it has come to be called, has been a haven and home to large numbers of people from the LGBTQ community.
Then there was Norman Mailer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning book writer, journalist and all-round rebel, who personified the idea of an alpha male during the last half of the 20th century.
On the day I went looking for his grave, one of the things that shocked me the most was the number of headstones in the cemetery that contained the names of young men who had died in their 20s and 30s, at the height of the AIDs epidemic in the 1980s.
It was a stark reminder of the terrible toll that global epidemic took on populations of gay people on this continent before medicines were found for those infected.
HIV/AIDs has claimed the life of many millions of people around the world, and as recently as two years ago, it was still killing more than 750,000 people annually in countries in Africa and elsewhere.
Obviously, there is still a great deal that needs to be down to address this health scourge.
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