In recognition of World AIDS Day 2014

I also rise today on behalf of the Liberal caucus to pay tribute to World AIDS Day.

December 1 marks World AIDS Day as an opportunity to acknowledge the epidemic that AIDS is, killing an estimated 1.5 million people per year. As of 2011, an estimated 71,300 Canadians were living with HIV infection. There is still stigma surrounding HIV, especially in small communities, and because of this, many in the territory choose to go to the bigger centres to be tested for HIV. This makes it extremely difficult for us to know how many Yukoners there are currently living with the virus.

It is also the first day of Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week. Canada’s aboriginal people make up a highly disproportionate amount of those affected with AIDS. Despite making up only four percent of Canada’s total population, they make up a full 12 percent of those infected.

Aboriginal AIDS Awareness works together with others for a goal of zero newly infected, while creating a more inclusive and understanding environment for those who are infected with HIV in the First Nation communities.

World AIDS Day was the first-ever public health day, dating back to 1988, and is an opportunity to reflect on the progress that we have made in combatting this epidemic.

Treatment has improved and life expectances are much higher than they were in the 1980s, but there still is no cure. Unfortunately, so many of those who suffer live in the world’s poorest communities and the poorest countries, and they do not have access to treatment. We, as Canadians, have an important leadership role to play in helping to ease the burden on countries that do not have the resources that we do in combatting the disease. Let us all recommit to raising awareness, funding research and ultimately ensuring that we create an environment so that those with HIV are not as reluctant to disclose this virus.