By Allison Carter, Jessica Whitbread and Angela Kaida
“I went through a long period, seems like ancient history now, but I remember when I was first diagnosed, I felt so dirty. Like everything about me was, I suppose, unsafe and unclean and my blood was just full of crap. Just the whole thing was very internalized… For the most part now, I feel loveable. I feel good about myself. I just feel like I’ve still got a lot to offer and give and that I can be part of a strong, healthy relationship, despite the difficulties, I suppose.” —Anonymous quote by a woman living with HIV
This past year the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) held its annual gathering, on the theme of “transforming wholistic approaches to Indigenous health.”
It’s a gathering of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, combining a business meeting, a gathering of Aboriginal people with HIV/AIDS, and the ‘Wise Practices’ research conference.
But more importantly, it is a gathering of colleagues who have become friends, clients who have become peers, people with HIV who have become community leaders, and an extended family. Also present are elders welcoming delegates to their traditional lands, and children – the younger ones mostly playing with each other and the older children learning and participating with their moms.
A volunteer from the Victorian AIDS Council at a community march.
By Brent Allan, Laurel Sprague, Suzy Malhotra and Rebecca Matheson
The partnerships forged between people living with HIV and researchers have been an essential foundation upon which the response to the HIV epidemic has grown. And the time has come to reaffirm and recommit to principles of inclusion and respect in the conduct of presenting research findings that impacts on our lives.
For people living with HIV and their allies, 2017 was a ground-breaking year. It culminated with both the federal and Ontario governments publicly recognizing the need to limit the over-criminalization of HIV in Canada. On World AIDS Day 2017, both acknowledged that criminal prosecution for alleged HIV non-disclosure is not warranted when a person living with HIV has a “suppressed viral load” (i.e., less than 200 copies of HIV/ml of blood) because such an individual poses no “realistic possibility” of transmitting the virus—the Supreme Court’s legal test for whether a duty to disclose exists.
It’s official! The Government of Canada supports U=U, the consensus statement that a person living with HIV does not transmit the virus sexually if they take treatment and maintain an undetectable viral load (“undetectable = untransmittable”).
The news came on November 30 in a joint statement from Canada’s chief public health officer and the chief medical officers of health of all Canadian provinces and territories.
The CATIE Blog hosts the views and opinions of people and organizations working and volunteering in Canada’s response to HIV and hepatitis C.