Canada currently lacks the political will to do what it takes to protect women, transwomen and girls from contracting HIV/AIDS, according to a report card put out by the Coalition for a Blueprint for Action on Women and Girls and HIV/AIDS.
The failure is especially apparent in First Nations populations. While Aboriginals only make up three percent of the Canadian population, then make up 10 percent of the population of Canadians affected by HIV/AIDS.
The Coalition points out that Canada is a resource rich, developed country that should be able to provide everything that women need to educate and protect themselves against the virus. They gave the Canadian government poor grades in several areas including diagnosis, treatment, prevention and education.They particularly focused on funding cuts and laws that are moving counter to what evidence shows as necessary to address the AIDS epidemic in the female population.
Funding cuts have affected the Canadian Human Rights Commission, agencies that focus on women’s health and specifically Aboriginal women’s health, and the National Association for Women and the Law.
Confronted by the Coalition’s report card, the government ignored their evidence. The Health Minister declared that this government has invested in front-line health services.
Louise Binder, a lawyer diagnosed with HIV in 1994 who co-founded the Coalition, told the CBC that young women should not continue to be infected at rates they’ve seen in Canada in a country that should be able to provide education and resources.
“It is primarily happening because of federal government laws and policies that actually hurt women and do not protect them from infection,” she said. “For instance the government has recently cut the Aboriginal health funding so that Aboriginal populations that take up really up to 10 percent of new infections and more than half of them were women, will not have the health services they did.”
Binder also pointed to the refugee health care cuts the government is currently trying to push through, which will affect women coming into the country already infected with the virus. The government will not provide any of their medications which could cause the disease to progress.
Sadly, it is unlikely that this government will pay any attention to the report card.
Photo Credit: Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada