If the only image you have of Africa is that of a continent continually in a state of crisis, then you are severely mistaken. It is time Westerners stop characterizing Africa as a bottomless pit of despair, and a continent ridden in abject poverty. We can no longer afford to distort its reality with misconceived assumptions.
I am a woman living with HIV, but I am a woman first. As a woman, I have similar hopes, dreams and
desires as women who are not HIV positive, including having a family. Twenty years ago when I was
first diagnosed, people living with HIV were discouraged from having children due to lack of methods to
prevent our children from becoming infected with HIV.
Today, highly effective methods are available which, when taken correctly, can reduce the risk of HIV
transmission to an infant to almost zero. Yet, despite volumes of medical evidence and thousands of
children born HIV free globally, people living with HIV face judgement and condemnation when we
choose to have children.
In sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than half of the people who need them have access to treatment medications. Children are still being born HIV positive. And their parents are still dying of the disease, leaving them to be raised by their aging and grieving grandmothers. These strong, resourceful women are literally saving the continent.
Hats off to the spin doctors who managed to turn this year's World AIDS Day into a global celebration. A mere 34 million people are living with HIV! The end of AIDS is near! It's a triumph of exclamat...
HIV positive individuals have an estimated 20-30 times greater risk of developing active TB than people without HIV infection. But, without an infusion of renewed global support, global mechanisms cannot scale up their activities to ensure that all people living with HIV are screened for TB, and all TB patients are provided HIV counselling and testing.
Canada used to be a leader in supporting research to monitor HIV in key populations -- terrifically difficult because the activities that put them at risk are covert and illegal in many countries; surveillance can expose vulnerable populations to authorities and create risks for them.
But Canada bowed out of supporting the HIV/AIDS Surveillance Project this year, just one more brick in a wall that is contributing to exclusion and marginalization of those most vulnerable to HIV infection. It's such a shame that our government has lost its vision of never leaving anyone behind.
In the lead up to World AIDS Day 2012 on December 1, Canada's Parliament has the chance to repair Canada's Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) and finally get the job done. Members of Parliament must make the all-important decision to end partisan political squabbling and vote "yes" for Bill C-398, the bill that will fix CAMR once and for all. Millions of lives hang in the balance.