World AIDS Day, observed on December 1st of every year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the HIV infection. It is also a time for reflection on what has been achieved with regard to the national and global response to HIV – and what must still be achieved.
December 1st also marks the beginning of Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in Canada.
Infections on the rise
HIV and AIDS remain a worldwide epidemic. According to UNAIDS, there are approximately 35 million people living with HIV and the number is rising in almost every region of the world.
Globally, women account for over 50 per cent of people who contract HIV. In 2013, according to UNAIDS, 1.5 million people worldwide died of AIDS-related illnesses.
Here in Canada, new HIV infections are also on the rise. An estimated 75,500 Canadians were living with HIV at the end of 2014. This represents an increase of 6,700 people (9.7%) since 2011.
Commitment – and action – needed
HIV/AIDS can be prevented and significant advancements have been made in the ability to treat those living with HIV/AIDS. However, universal access to preventative measures, medical care and support remains a distant goal in Canada and internationally.
Governments have been long on talk and promises, but failed to deliver on the commitment to universal access to medical treatment by 2010.
PSAC calls on the federal government to increase its monetary commitment and other resources allocated to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS as well as to community-based AIDS service organizations.
On December 1st, do your part and stand in solidarity with people living with HIV/AIDS here and around the world.