In Canada and in much of the Western world, thanks to the advent of combination antiretroviral therapy, there has been a clear improvement in health status and increased life expectancy of people living with HIV approaching that of the general population. However, despite these medical advances, negative public perception about HIV has yet to catch up to the reality that most clinicians encounter. The reality for the most part is of healthy and conscientious patients looking to improve their quality of life.
While HIV does not discriminate and can affect anyone, Canada’s HIV epidemic is concentrated in key populations – a result of both biological risk factors and the social determinants of health.
While roughly one out of every 10,000 Canadians is newly infected with HIV every year, the HIV incidence rate is much higher among Aboriginal peoples, Canadians born in countries where HIV is endemic, people who inject drugs, and men who have sex with men.
As AIDS Awareness Week begins and with World AIDS Day coming up on Monday, December 1, people and organizations across the country are talking about HIV at home and abroad. This week, one of the questions we’ll be asked most frequently at CATIE is: “What does HIV look like in Canada today?”
Recently I was asked to speak at an event organized by Alex McClelland and Nicole Greenspan called “Where Do We Go From Here? AIDS Organizing, Services, Bureaucracy & the State.” The event aimed to address a number of questions, including:
- What are the limits of current community-based practice based on engagement with the state?
- Are today’s AIDS service organizations (ASOs) adequately resourced and designed to undertake their intended role?
- Is the role sufficient to address the ongoing and emerging HIV issues that marginalized communities face?
- Due to state constraints, what are the consequences on advocacy possibilities for ASOs, or ASO involvement in social and policy change?
Whew! How Foucauldian!
By Laurie Edmiston
While at AIDS 2014, CATIE’s Ed Jackson and I met with a number of Australian agencies to pursue a plan to share best practices around gay men’s sexual health programming. I was already familiar with some of Australia’s powerful awareness, prevention and testing campaigns, but a closer look at the Aussie HIV response has been eye-opening and provides many useful learnings for Canada.