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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?
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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.
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.
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.
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current prevention strategies are not decreasing the rate of new HIV infections quickly enough to end the epidemic -- and women and girls are especially at risk. Given recent advances in HIV prevention science, we can, and must, do better.
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And just like that, British royalty has come face-to-face with music royalty.
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Speaking at the recent Global Fund replenishment conference in Montreal, Mr. Trudeau touted that "Canada will continue to lead by example, and show the world what we can accomplish when we unite in pursuit of a larger goal." However, this declaration came at a time when HIV rates have been steadily rising across the country, people with HIV being criminalized for non-disclosure and underfunding for HIV organizations.
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December 1st is World AIDS Day. A diagnosis of HIV today is not a death sentence. There are good diagnostic tools, and effective antiretroviral treatments. Despite these tools, about 40 per cent of individuals living with HIV do not know that they are infected. This has to change.
Stigma has many causes, one of which is a genuine fear of contagion. Despite the fact that HIV is now a treatable condition, "educational" messages on HIV prevention are still based on fear, and almost universally exaggerate the risks of HIV infection and its consequences.
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I was born on May 21st 1993 with H.I.V. In my world this was the scariest thing imaginable. Not the actual virus. I was fortunate enough to learn I could physically live a long relatively healthy life. The stigma has kept me forever afraid. But my disclosure saved my life. That's not the case for everybody and I think it's important we all have a choice. Whatever choice that is, let yourself be happy. Let yourself feel no shame. I am not living with H.I.V, H.I.V is living with me.
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One of the key factors in achieving the end of AIDS is one of the most challenging -- gender equality. We need to go beyond the science of HIV care to the larger issues of social structures that create vulnerabilities to HIV.
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The fact that there are still approximately 2 million people around the world who receive an HIV-positive diagnosis each year only accentuates how important it is to scale-up proven combination prevention approaches. Equally important is the scale-up of investments to find a safe, effective and affordable vaccine and multi-purpose prevention technologies.
For the past three years World AIDS Day on December 1st has been themed, "Getting to zero," which means zero new HIV Infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. Even with these promising new developments however, we cannot underestimate the challenges ahead in responding the AIDS epidemic. More than 71 thousand Canadians were estimated to be living with HIV in 2011 and there were 3,175 new HIV infections. Worldwide, there are a staggering 36 million people living with AIDS.