"How can we even imagine stopping infections when millions of people do not have access to adequate sanitation, affordable housing, nutritious food, and safe and healthy working conditions? We have a responsibility to fight for universal access to physical and mental health care not just at home, but around the world." — Elisabeth Ballermann, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer
Ottawa (01 Dec. 2017) — World AIDS Day — on December 1 — is a day dedicated to commemorate those who have died and to raise awareness about AIDS and the global spread of the HIV virus. December 1 is the start of Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in Canada. It is a time for reflection on what we have achieved with regard to the national and global response to HIV, and what we still must achieve.
The first World AIDS Day was held in 1988 after health ministers from around the world met in London, England and agreed to such a day as a way of highlighting the enormity of the AIDS pandemic and nations’ responsibility to ensure universal treatment, care and support for people living with HIV and AIDS.
My Health, My Right
The 2017 theme for World AIDS Day is "My health, My right."
According to the UNAIDS Data 2017 report from UNAIDS, an estimated 1 million people worldwide died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2016. By the end of 2015, an estimated 36.7 million people around the world were living with HIV.
On a national scale, the Public Health Agency of Canada estimated that 65,040 Canadians were living with HIV in 2014, of whom an estimated 52,220 were diagnosed. This means that an estimated 20 per cent of people in Canada with HIV are undiagnosed and unaware they are living with HIV. 2,500 new infection occurs each year.
This year, World AIDS Day is highlighting the fundamental right people have to health care. It is the right of everyone to receive the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, as enshrined in the UN's 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This includes the right of everyone, including people living with and affected by HIV, to the prevention and treatment of ill health, to make decisions about one’s own health and to be treated with respect and dignity and without discrimination.
36 million people are still living with HIV worldwide
But according to UNAIDS, the United Nations agency responsible for the global HIV/AIDS response, 2017 "has seen significant steps on the way to meeting the 90–90–90 treatment targets towards ending AIDS by 2030. Nearly 21 million people living with HIV are now on treatment and new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are declining in many parts of the world. But we shouldn’t be complacent. In eastern Europe and central Asia, new HIV infections have risen by 60 per cent since 2010 and AIDS-related deaths by 27 per cent. Western and central Africa are still being left behind. Two out of three people are not accessing treatment. We cannot have a 2-speed approach to ending AIDS."
"We believe that every person should have access to the health care they need to live a full life," says Elisabeth Ballermann, Secretary-Treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "How can we even imagine stopping infections when millions of people do not have access to adequate sanitation, affordable housing, nutritious food, and safe and healthy working conditions? We have a responsibility to fight for universal access to physical and mental health care not just at home, but around the world. Only by working together on this front will we see an end to AIDS."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE