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This discrepancy between HIV/AIDS treatment and LGBTQ rights is a continued battle, and hope lies in education and acceptance. Without eradicating the stigma surrounding LGBTQ citizens, the world's most vulnerable populations will have little hope of eradicating HIV/AIDS on a global scale.
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Apps such as Tinder and Grindr have gained popularity over the last few years. Many utilize the programs to find casual sexual partners. This specific purpose has led some researchers to believe digital dating may be the underlying reason for the rise in cases. This allegation, while reasonable in appearance, does not come without criticism.
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"If I have sex, I could go to jail." This is the reality of life for women living with HIV in Canada. It's a story I heard a few weeks ago from an African woman who had recently immigrated to Vancouver and is now faced with the profoundly isolating experience of being a Black HIV-positive woman in Canadian society.
HIV has lost its steam. With access to medicine and treatment slowly increasing for many (but not all), a world without HIV is in our sights. Hallelujah. Maybe. The virus may be losing its steam but its stigma is destroying lives. Especially in Ontario. Our dirty little secret is that Ontario is responsible for 54% of all Canadian HIV non-disclosure criminal cases. In a world where ARVS (anti-retrovirals) have made a reality, stigma remains lethal. Two new pieces of art take on HIV stigma full frontal.
Afro-Canadian Positive Network of B.C.
"We succeeded in getting these kids free HIV drugs and support. But if they can't keep the meds safe then the whole thing falls apart."
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Even with access to care, I saw the Afro-Canadian positive community around me failing to receive the care they need. Refugees face many challenges -- being a newcomer, being alone, dealing with trauma. In addition, the shame of having HIV was profound; merely walking into an HIV clinic caused widespread gossip and shaming within the community.
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The Supreme Court has ruled that people living with the HIV virus carry a positive legal obligation to disclosure their HIV-positive status, regardless of the circumstance, prior to engaging in sexual relations with a new partner. If they do not, they could be charged with criminal offence -- most commonly of which would be aggravated sexual assault.
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As minister of International Development and La Francophonie, I have visited 15 or so countries and Canada's re-engagement was pointed out to me during each of them. But what does this re-engagement really mean? Here are five major achievements that speak to Canada's re-engagement on the international scene and the impact of our actions.
I'm just going to come right out and say it: I think Americans have a lot to be concerned about unless, among other things, they don't care about their freedom to choose and their basic human rights. Have you been paying attention to Donald Trump's nominees? Do you know what they believe in and stand for? I have been keeping up with his picks and their platforms. And let me tell you, unless I was an affluent, white, heterosexual, conservative Christian man, I'd be more than a little nervous.
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.
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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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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.
While I am a doctor with a strong inner-surgeon-voice, my years working and living in countries in Africa and in urban and rural Canada convinced me long ago that we need to pay attention not just to vaccines and drugs, not even just to health care and health services, but to the ideas, money, conflicts, and energy behind what we see.