We are just three years away from being called to account for our progress towards the 2020 Fast-Track targets -- a critical milestone in ending the AIDS epidemic. We still have a great distance to travel before we're able to call it a success. Measures to close this gap are readily available, but what we need is an all hands-on deck approach.
Since 2011, new infections in children have reduced by a massive 60 per cent -- this drop is responsible for most of the impressive decline in HIV infections globally. So why then is it hard for me to join in the spontaneous applause that tend to break out at events where statements such as "... and her baby was born HIV-free" or "... and my baby is healthy" are made?
Internationally the formal commitment has been made to end AIDS by 2030. However, there is a chasm to be crossed between the formal signature of a country acknowledging that these targets ought to be met, and the day-to-day financial, political, and social effort that meeting these targets will require.
Few health workers with knowledge of sign language and a lack of written or visual information on HIV in sign language are further barriers for those with hearing impairments. Requiring a sign language interpreter also limits the level of privacy deaf people have when accessing health services. Additionally, much information can get lost in translation. Without comprehensive knowledge of HIV transmission, Lesotho's deaf population remains vulnerable to this virus.
Thirty-seven years old. In 2030, I will be 37 years old. In 2030, the AIDS epidemic will be eliminated. I hope. According to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or "Global Goals" that's the plan. I pray to God they're right. I can wait till 37, but if I'm being honest, I expect to be waiting much past that.
Global Fund announced that pledges totalling US$12.9 billion were made. This is almost US$1 billion more than what was raised at the previous replenishment conference in 2013 and represents a significant commitment to fighting the three diseases over the coming three years. But will it be enough to end the three epidemics for good?
As Montreal gears up to host the biggest leaders in global health, it is our hope that Canada will go well beyond provision of international aid, and find a way to harness the abundant scientific talent in Canada. Doing so will not only amplify the financial contributions by Canadians, but also show our global solidarity.
Fifteen years ago, Twesigye Jackson Kaguri, a native Ugandan, was living the American dream -- until his brother, and then his sister, died of HIV/AIDS. Coming face to face with the scale of Uganda's HIV/AIDS pandemic, Kaguri took the $5000 he had saved for a down payment on his own home and built Nyaka Primary School.
Many women around the world are placed in situations where they are often unable to negotiate with their partners to be faithful or to use condoms. Stepping it up for gender parity requires that women have access to a range of HIV prevention options, including those that they can use without partner involvement if they choose. Recent advances in oral pre-exposure prophylaxis have contributed to an expanding set of options, and two weeks ago, the results of two vaginal microbicide trials were released, taking us one momentous step forward along this path.
The presence of gender inequality becomes apparent within the communities of CAP-AIDS Uganda's CBO partners upon observing gender disparities in domestic labour and unpaid work, access to capital, as well as land and housing rights. These women are breadwinners, caregivers and active agents of community development who are entrenched in the social welfare of family, friends and neighbours.
Why is it that in a world where HIV is treatable and preventable young women are still getting infected and not being tested? In my opinion it is because women are still made and treated to be secondary in this world. There is a pressure put upon us to be perfectly satisfied even with the greatest tragedies. We are silenced, shamed if we speak up and sometimes in some places, even killed if we speak up.
Recent studies indicate that people living with HIV have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Although a number of pharmacological strategies under investigation should help minimize this risk, behavioral interventions, such as physical activity and exercise, also can lower the risk. However, as with anyone living with a chronic disease, questions will arise whether or not it is safe to exercise with HIV. The answer is a resounding YES.
The vulnerability of Black Canadians to HIV is highly complex and requires a better focus on prevention, education, harm reduction and testing. Our biggest challenge is the high and especially persistent levels of HIV stigma and homophobia in our communities. These attitudes severely limit our success in engaging Canada's Black communities in a dialogue about HIV, and get in the way of our HIV prevention, testing and treatment efforts. This is what our awareness day is all about. We want to both celebrate our successes and make an objective assessment of where our community is at in this fight to engage people in HIV prevention.