Canada’s Ministers wrap up meetings at 24th International AIDS Conference in Montreal
From: Public Health Agency of Canada
Policy makers, researchers and advocates from around the world gathered, in-person and virtually, to advance the HIV response
August 2, 2022
Canada closed out events today at AIDS 2022, the 24th International AIDS Conference – the largest global gathering on any health issue in the world. Canada served as the host country for this year’s conference, which took place between July 29th and August 2nd in Montreal, and virtually. The conference brought together scientists, clinicians, community leaders, advocates, people with lived experience of HIV, health providers, decision-makers and others from around the world to Re-engage and Follow the Science in the response to HIV and AIDS.
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, delivered closing remarks for the conference, during which he reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to reaching global HIV targets. He encouraged international partners to take collaborative action toward reducing stigma around HIV as a way to reach the undiagnosed and remove barriers to testing, treatment, and care. He also highlighted Canada’s endorsement of a global declaration on Undetectable = Untransmittable, calling on other countries to do the same. The declaration is the outcome of important discussions that took place at the Global U=U Summit on July 28th where Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer took part and reinforced the importance of learning from those with lived experience and addressing health inequities and the social determinants of health as a way to reach populations disproportionately impacted by HIV.
During the conference, Minister Duclos, together with the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Canada’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced nearly $18 million in funding to make decentralized forms of HIV testing, including HIV self-test kits, more widely available across Canada. In addition, culturally safe Indigenous-led testing initiatives will support citizens living in northern, remote, and isolated communities, ensuring that everyone has access to testing. This will help with reaching the undiagnosed by offering greater accessibility, privacy, and convenience to HIV testing.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable David Lametti, also announced upcoming public consultations that will launch in October 2022 on how to modernize the criminal law relating to non-disclosure of HIV status in light of scientific evidence related to the risk of sexual transmission of HIV. Lastly, the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of International Development, also reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to the global HIV response by announcing $15 million for UNAIDS for 2023-2025.
These commitments from Canada, together with the vital discussions that took place at AIDS 2022 with experts, policy makers, and people with lived experience from Canada and from around the world, will help drive forward Canada’s progress on the domestic and global HIV response, and strengthen Canada’s resolve to end HIV and AIDS as a public health concern by 2030.
“HIV and AIDS continue to be health concerns in Canada and around the world. Globally we had made progress since the 80’s, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a dent in our efforts. We are grateful for all the expertise and knowledge that was shared at this Conference, which served as a wake-up call to collectively re-engage our efforts toward getting to zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination. Canada will continue to do its part and together we will reach that future free of HIV.”
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
“It was humbling and inspiring seeing the HIV community that gathered in Montreal, and virtually, these past few days to share their stories of lived experience and valuable perspectives on the priorities going forward. Ending the stigma and discrimination around HIV is key to reaching the undiagnosed, connecting people to resources for HIV prevention and treatment, and ultimately ending the AIDS epidemic. Our government is proud to endorse the Undetectable = Untransmittable message, which reinforces that people who are HIV positive can go on to live long, happy, and healthy lives, and will continue to work with our partners to improve quality of life for those living with HIV in Canada.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Associate Minister of Health
“As the 24th International AIDS Conference comes to an end, I would like to thank the research community for continuing to follow the science and community service providers for leading the way to address barriers and stigma faced by people living with HIV/AIDS – all while being at the frontlines of the response. HIV/AIDS affect us all regardless of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, or socio-economic status. This conference provides an essential platform where advocates, experts, and health officials from around the world come together to advance the global HIV response.”
The Honourable Marci Ien
Minister for Women and Gender Equality, and Youth
“Our Government is committed to challenging and reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS. We support the work being done at home and abroad on this critical issue, and we are taking the necessary steps toward ensuring our criminal justice system keeps up with scientific evidence and remains fair and effective.”
The Honourable David Lametti
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
- On July 28th, Canada endorsed a call to action on Undetectable = Untransmittable, that commits to shifting evidence into action and integrating U=U into future programs and policies. Canada was the first country to publicly endorse the Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) campaign in 2018, and continues to endorse this message.
- On July 29th, the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of International Development, announced $15 million for UNAIDS.
- On July 27th, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced upcoming consultations on criminal justice responses to HIV non-disclosure. The consultations will launch in October 2022 and will seek input from stakeholders and the public on how to best modernize the criminal justice system’s response to non-disclosure of HIV status prior to otherwise consensual sexual activity.
- On August 1st, Canada announced a total of nearly $18 million to make decentralized forms of HIV testing more widely available, including in northern, remote and isolated communities across Canada, to help reach the undiagnosed as the first step toward connecting people to culturally-safe services for prevention, treatment and care.
- The Government of Canada recognizes that the contribution of community-based organizations is central to Canada’s ability to achieve global HIV targets, reduce barriers, and address systemic inequities. The Government of Canada is continuing to invest $33.4 million annually to support community-based efforts to reach key populations and help meet their prevention, testing, treatment, and support needs.
- An estimated 63,000 people are living with HIV in Canada. Of these people, an estimated 1 in 10 are unaware of their status. In 2020, 1,639 newly diagnosed cases of HIV were reported in Canada. The Government of Canada supports a comprehensive approach to addressing HIV and other Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infections (STBBI) in Canada. Through its Five-year Action Plan on STBBI, the Government of Canada has made significant progress on its commitments to reduce the impact of STBBI in Canada by 2030.
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
Public Health Agency of Canada