The beginning of December marks many points to commemorate human rights and equality struggles around the world and December 1st begins the month with World AIDS Day.
This important international day is a time to recognize the continued resilience and resistance of activists around HIV / AIDS globally and the amazing advances made in prevention and treatment.
AIDS & HIV don’t make the headlines as they once did, but It’s critically important to understand that AIDS is not a disease of the past. Globally, infection rates continue to climb, and millions of people deal with this devastating and preventable disease. In Canada, research shows that fully 20% of people living with HIV are undiagnosed and unaware they are living with the virus.
While the trend lines for new HIV infections in Ontario have been decreasing over the last decade, the last few years have seen numbers increase, which causes great concern.
An important barrier in the fight against HIV / AIDS, both here in Canada and worldwide, is the stigma attached to this disease, a stigma that treats this disease unlike any other, and one that plays a significant role in under-diagnosis, lack of testing, and challenges to obtaining treatment.
As a labour movement in Ontario, we just passed an important resolution at the recent Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) convention calling on all of us to join those who have been fighting against the stigma around HIV / AIDS for decades.
This year also launches the start of Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in Canada. This focused attention for Indigenous communities is particularly important. Research shows that Indigenous populations have incidence rates of HIV / AIDS almost 3 times higher than other populations in Canada. The racism that Indigenous communities face, coupled with the stigma associated with AIDS / HIV, is a devastating duo that we must all fight against.
Today, we also honour the important work that CUPE Ontario members do in front-line roles in the fight to prevent new infections, to care for those with the disease, and to put an end to devastating stigma still connected to HIV / AIDS.
CUPE Members at AIDS Services Organizations lead this work with the support of our members in health care, social services, public health, and in education.
After years of cuts and frozen budgets in Ontario under the Liberals, it’s sadly not surprising that we are now beginning to see a rise in HIV infections. On this World AIDS Day, CUPE Ontario also commits itself to work with others to increase badly needed funding to combat HIV / AIDS, not only here in Ontario, with a focus on Indigenous communities, but also around the world. Together we can put a real end to the devastation caused by AIDS worldwide.