Lisa LaFlamme talks to Stephen Lewis on World AIDS Day: 5 Things we learned
Published Thursday, December 1, 2016 10:00PM EST
Stephen Lewis, the former NDP leader and United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, told CTV Chief Anchor Lisa LaFlamme on World AIDS Day that although progress has been made, much more effort is needed to make the disease history.
Here are five things to know about the ongoing epidemic in 2016:
1. Only about half of the world’s 36.7 million HIV-AIDS patients receive treatment with life-saving anti-retroviral medications.
“There are over 18 million people now in treatment who no longer have a death sentence,” Lewis said.
“But, believe it or not, there are slightly more than 18 million who still require treatment and as yet don’t yet have it.”
2. Seven Canadians are infected with HIV daily. Men who have sex with men, injection drug users and indigenous people have a higher risk.
“In Canada there are a number of failings, frankly,” Lewis said. “One of them is that we need more safe-injection sites for injecting drug users so that the exchange of needles doesn’t transmit the infection.”
“We also need a much greater concentration in aboriginal communities whose health standards as we know have been deplorably neglected over the years,” he said.
3. Women are also at risk. There are 7,500 new infections every week among young women and girls between the ages of 15 and 24 in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“You’ve got a terrible aspect of misogyny and the vulnerability of women and girls which are causing enormous problems for that continent,” Lewis said. That’s why he’s hopeful that an anti-retroviral drug applied vaginally will soon “give women control over the sexual relationships which they haven’t had.”
4. While the annual spending on HIV-AIDS worldwide has increased from US-$5 billion in 2000 to US-$19 billion, the United Nations estimates another US-$7 billion is needed.
Not only are half of those infected not yet receiving drugs, but Lewis points out that infection rates are actually increasing in parts of the world, such as Eastern Europe.
“The community-based organizations on the ground which do most of the work are starving,” he said. “They just do not have the resources in order to handle HIV.”
5. There are reasons to be hopeful, including a vaccine trial that began this week in South Africa.
“If we got a vaccine in conjunction with the anti-retroviral drugs,” according to Lewis, “then we could reasonably bring an end to this pandemic by the year 2030, 2040.”