Minister’s statement on World AIDS Day, Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week
Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, has issued the following statement in recognition of World AIDS Day and Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week:
“Dec. 1 marks World AIDS Day and the beginning of Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week. It is time to renew our collective and personal commitment to supporting British Columbians living with HIV/AIDS and ensuring that they get the comprehensive, compassionate and culturally safe care they deserve.
“We also recommit to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the stigma that surrounds a diagnosis, which can prevent people from getting the care and support they need.
“Importantly, we continue to carry out this critical work in the memory of those we’ve lost to AIDS, whom we honour today.
“The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘Equalize.’ As persistent inequalities are hindering progress in eradicating AIDS, now more than ever we need to equalize access to essential HIV services, particularly for at-risk populations, such as 2SLGBTQ+ people, Indigenous people and people who use drugs.
“I’m incredibly proud of the work our province has done to ensure universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatment services, but we can – and we will – do more and do better.
“One of our top priorities is creating greater awareness of HIV/AIDS among Indigenous people and continuing to work to eradicate Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination in health care, which, like stigma, acts as a barrier to people accessing care and has detrimental effects on their physical, mental and spiritual health.
“World AIDS Day also offers an opportunity to reflect on our progress on tackling HIV/AIDS and to thank the many individuals and organizations that have dedicated their work to achieving these goals.
“This year, the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) celebrates its 30th anniversary and looks toward a major milestone in 2030. BC-CfE is the country’s largest HIV/AIDS research, treatment and education centre and a world leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In 2006, the centre pioneered the Treatment as Prevention Strategy, which provides universal access to HIV treatment immediately upon diagnosis. This made-in-B.C. strategy is used throughout the province and underpins UNAIDS’s ambitious goal to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The strategy has already resulted in dramatic declines in new cases of HIV and AIDS in B.C. and around the world.
“Local efforts are also making a major difference in people’s lives. In northern B.C., for instance, Positive Living North: No khe̅yoh t’sih’en t’sehena Society (PLN) is providing culturally safe care for Indigenous people living with HIV/AIDS. PLN works with some of the most vulnerable people in the community who are often dealing with addiction, homelessness, poverty and intergenerational trauma due to colonization.
“On World AIDS Day and during Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week, we encourage you to take a moment to reflect on what you can do to help raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and challenge the stigma that stymies progress. Together, we can ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS lead full, healthy, stigma-free lives while we work to end this epidemic once and for all.”