A World AIDS Day Post
from our CEO, Rauni Salminen
World AIDS Day, December 1, has been recognized since 1988. On this day, we remember the people we have lost, reflect on how far we have come, and rally together to strengthen our resolve in the HIV response.
An estimated 40 million people worldwide have died of AIDS since 1981, and an estimated 37 million are living with HIV, making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history. Despite recent improvements in treatment, the AIDS epidemic still claims an estimated two million lives each year, of which more than 250,000 are children.
HIV isn’t just a health issue — it’s an issue of human dignity. 9.7 million people worldwide are unable to access life-saving HIV treatments. Vulnerable communities include LGBTQ+ youth, people who use drugs, and marginalized populations from our continent to Eastern Europe and central Asia.
AIDS has never been more preventable. But only if we create a world where it’s safe to receive health education, prevention services and compassionate treatment.
For 30 years, the Philip Aziz Centre has been offering a safe space and equitable access to hospice programs which include practical, emotional and spiritual support to persons living with and affected by HIV. As HIV has changed over the years, we too have adapted our support services to ensure care is relevant and available when and where needed. This day, we particularly remember Toronto artist, Philip Aziz, who died of an AIDS-related illness back in 1991. He bequeathed his estate to a small community church, who cared for him at the end of his life, requesting they use the funds to establish a supportive care program for persons living with and mostly dying at the time of AIDS. Fast forward 20 years, to the building of Emily’s House, inspired through the work of Philip Aziz Centre visiting hospice programs with parents caring for children with complex conditions in the community.