Today people all around the world are celebrating WORLD AIDS Day.
For most people living with HIV/AIDS, every day is “WORLD AIDS DAY”; this is especially true for people from certain populations. In Canada, it is estimated that 75,500 Canadians were/are living with HIV, and an estimated 2,570 new HIV infections occurred in 2014 (CATIE 2015). Females represent an estimated 50% of the Canadian infected population (Health Canada). In the last few years, it has been reported that the highest cases of HIV infection occurred within the Aboriginal population.
Although anti-retroviral therapy has improved the lives of people living with HIV, and people are living longer with the disease, there are people around the world who still do not have access to medication. Developing countries that had support in the past, have now started to cut back on funding.
WORLD AIDS Day 2015 calls for the expansion of anti-retroviral therapy to all people living with HIV and to continue the care and support for all people infected by the virus.
Stigma continues to be the biggest barrier for people to access care and support. Today, it begs the question we need to ask ourselves – “How are we contributing to this stigma and what have we done to fight against this?”
Let us remember as an agency the people we have lost because of HIV. This year we lost five people due to AIDS-related death. Let us continue to work to improve the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS we have a duty as an organization.
The Theme of WORLD AIDS Day 2015 is: “Getting to Zero; end AIDS by 2030: The time to act is now.”
We need to act in love and remember why we are here: “Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless, and plead the case of the widow.”
People living with HIV/AIDS are crying out: they need our love, support and prayers. We CAN get to Zero if we remember that.
Lena Soje, Client Services Coordinator, Philip Aziz Centre / Emily’s House