Canada Urgently Needs an Updated AIDS Strategy

Huffington Post
Julio Montaner
Original Article:

Being recognized with the Order of Canada represents a great honour that fills me with gratitude and encourages me to continue the work we initiated three decades ago to control and eventually defeat the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This is in large part to fulfill my commitment to the numerous patients, volunteers, colleagues and supporters who selflessly contributed and continue to support our work. All of them were brought together by a single common purpose: to bring an end to the devastation caused by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in BC, Canada, and the world. At this time, I’d like to also express my gratitude to my key mentors, most notably Professors James Hogg, Stephan Grybowski and John Ruedy, whose early influences strongly shaped my clinical and academic career. And above all, the steadfast guidance and inspiration of my late father, Professor Luis Julio González Montaner, a leading academic TB specialist in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This gratitude comes with the acknowledgment that our work is far from over. We must continue to fight HIV and the persistent stigma attached to the illness. HIV diagnoses are climbing in many Canadian regions and populations – such as Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and even in Ottawa, the nation’s capital. The epidemic continues to disproportionately affect men who have sex with men (MSM), persons who use drugs, commercial sex workers, and Aboriginal individuals in this country. Furthermore, access to testing, support, care and life-saving medication is uneven across Canada. Structural and social barriers persist, which perpetuate heterogeneity in access to critical services even within regions. The lack of a comprehensive and up-to-date Canada-wide strategy to control HIV and AIDS remains one of the most regrettable omissions of the last decade.

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