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Dear Sisters and Brothers,World Aids Day

Today is World AIDS Day, an annual event established by the World Health Organization in 1988 to highlight the effect of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. In years past, it has been more a day of tragedy than a day of hope. But worldwide, there is great reason to be more hopeful today.

Increased access to HIV services worldwide resulted in a 15 percent drop in new infections over the last ten years, and a 22 percent decrease in the number of AIDS-related deaths over the last five years. CUPE members know how serious the issue is. Many of us work to support people who are in high-risk populations, and many of us work in public health and AIDS services organizations.

Right now, many of the programs that help bring infection rates down are being cut. The City of Toronto, for example, just tabled a budget that will cut funding to AIDS programming. As CUPE members, we need to speak up and defend these vital services – services so often delivered by our sisters and brothers in CUPE.

While there have been some major strides in research and treatment that have begun to bring new infection rates down, the total number of people infected continues to rise. There remains a huge challenge. Although more men are infected in Canada, worldwide women are more frequently affected because of discrimination and gender inequality. In many of the world’s poorest countries, infection rates remain astronomical because of lack of access to health care, educational programs, and because of other barriers.

But many of those barriers also exist in our own backyard. Infection rates continue to be disproportionately high in Aboriginal populations, for example, again because of lack of access to health care and prevention programs.

We need to do more than just protect existing programs. We need to call on governments to improve these services and to invest in preventative health care programs. It won’t hurt anyone if building those programs creates some good jobs at the same time.

With our voice, we can make these programs a reality. And we can help make the World Health Organization’s theme for this World AIDS Day a reality: “Getting to zero: zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths.”

For more information, please visit


Fred Hahn          Candace Rennick

President           Secretary-Treasurer

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For more information, please visit the World Health Organization website: