Statement from Minister Paradis: World AIDS Day

December 1, 2013

Around the world, more than 35 million people are living with HIV/AIDS—95 percent of them in low- and middle-income countries. Of the 6,300 new HIV infections that occurred every day in 2012, approximately 5,500 were adults. A remarkable 39 percent of them were between 15 and 24 years old, and nearly half were women, compounding the gender inequality and discrimination that continue to hobble national efforts to scale up HIV services to those people most in need.

At the 2010 Muskoka Summit, Canada joined other G-8 member states in reaffirming its commitment to coming "as close as possible" to universal access to prevention, treatment and care for people living with HIV/AIDS, as part of developing-country-led efforts to achieve this objective. In 2011, UN member states agreed to a 2015 target of reaching 15 million people with HIV treatment in recognition of the severity of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and its impact.

Canada is a long-standing and active player in the global HIV/AIDS response. Since 2001, Canada has contributed more than $1.5 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. With contributions from Canada and other donors, Global Fund programs provide antiretroviral therapy to 5.3 million people living with HIV in developing countries. Canada has also been a strong supporter of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) since it began in 1996.

Recent figures from UNAIDS show that by the end of 2012, 9.7 million people in low- and middle-income countries had access to antiretroviral therapy—an increase of nearly 20 percent in just one year. Compared to 2001, there was an astounding 33-percent drop in the number of new infections among adults and children combined, including a 52-percent reduction in new HIV infections among children. These decreases are due to sustained efforts to improve access to effective treatments, strengthen health systems, and deliver preventative programs and public awareness campaigns.

Canada is also involved in the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, as part of maternal, newborn and child health. In Tanzania, 71 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women now have access to treatment, which prevents transmission to their babies—a sharp increase of more than 34 percent in 2008.

In partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Government of Canada supports the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative—a $139-million initiative to help develop an affordable and globally accessible HIV vaccine and prevent the transmission of HIV between mothers and their children. Canada is helping to leverage research, advanced technology, and innovation to develop an effective vaccine.

On World AIDS Day, I am proud to say that Canada remains committed to working with our partners and developing countries to combat HIV/AIDS around the world to continue building on the remarkable progress we have made over the last few years.

Christian Paradis
Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie