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World AIDS Day: HIV activists hopeful for end to backsliding on infections, stigma

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HIV activists are marking World AIDS Day by urging Ottawa to help stop a global backslide in progress on stemming infections and stigma. Read more: Canada’s response to AIDS lagging, activists say ahead of international conference Indigenous people accounted for nearly one-fifth of new HIV infections in Canada in 2020, the data say.

HIV activists are marking World AIDS Day by urging Ottawa to help stop a global backslide in progress on stemming infections and stigma.

“It’s clear to us that this government is seized of the issue, but the truth of the matter is, no movement is happening quickly enough for people with HIV living in Canada,” says Janet Butler-McPhee, who co-leads the HIV Legal Network in Toronto.

Read more: Canada’s response to AIDS lagging, activists say ahead of international conference

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Canada’s response to AIDS lagging, activists say ahead of international conference

The Public Health Agency of Canada estimated that 62,790 people in Canada were living with HIV in 2020, and that 10 per cent of them didn’t know they had the virus.

That represented a slight drop in overall cases from 2018, but an increase among the most vulnerable.

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Indigenous people accounted for nearly one-fifth of new HIV infections in Canada in 2020, the data say. That year, women and people who inject drugs made up an increasing share of infections, while men who have sex with men made up a smaller share.

1:32 ‘One pandemic cannot overshadow another,’ health minister says on HIV/AIDS

Advocates argue that the numbers reflect the uneven effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Butler-McPhee noted that the Harper and Trudeau governments both pledged funding for grassroots groups that serve people with HIV that hasn’t fully materialized, despite the added factors of a toxic drug crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You’re talking about organizations who have had to pivot pretty significantly and take on new work without funding that has been long-promised,” she said.

Meanwhile,

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