At the end of 2011, UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, estimated that, globally, 34 million people were living with HIV. Of that number, about 69 percent were living in sub-Saharan Africa, the region most heavily affected by the epidemic. In that same year, 2.5 million people, including 330,000 children, were newly infected with HIV.
There are now some signs of hope and progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS. According to UNAIDS, AIDS-related deaths had decreased from 2.2 million in 2005 to 1.7 million in 2011 as a result of many advances, including:
Nevertheless, HIV/AIDS remains one of the largest roadblocks to development. Since this pandemic affects people from all walks in the prime of their lives, it has a devastating effect on the economic, social, and political status of societies. Globally, HIV/AIDS remains the leading cause of death among women aged 15 to 44.
Canada is an active player in the global response to HIV/AIDS and recognizes the need to increase efforts to achieve universal access to HIV prevention measures, treatment, and care. That is why the fight against HIV/AIDS is one of the main components of children and youth strategy.
An important part of Canada's efforts to improve maternal, newborn, and child health is to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. Between 15 percent and 45 percent of children born to HIV-positive women can become infected with the virus during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. Interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, including access to antiretroviral drugs for both the mother and her child, and preventing women from getting HIV in the first place can reduce this risk of transmission to less than 5 percent.
Canada played a leading role within the UN Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health. The Commission recommended that access to antiretroviral treatment for HIV-positive pregnant women, due to the significant impact it has on women and children's health, be one of eleven indicators that the global community monitor.
Canada supports the Global Plan towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections among Children by 2015 and Keeping their Mothers Alive (PDF, 785.3 KB, 48 pages), launched in 2011 to intensify efforts to reach global targets of reducing new HIV infections in children and maternal deaths caused by HIV.
This support is helping to meet the Millennium Development Goals, one of which targets halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.
Canada's support for HIV/AIDS prevention and for care and treatment of those affected by this pandemic has helped save many lives in developing countries. Between 2005-2006 and 2011-2012, this support, channelled through global initiatives, multilateral and bilateral programs, and partnerships with Canadians, totalled more than $1.12 billion.
In July 2010, the Government of Canada renewed its commitment to implement the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative (CHVI) in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with a contribution of $111 million. Since 2007, CIDA has allocated $30 million for the CHVI to develop an affordable, globally available HIV vaccine through the following projects:
Under CHVI, CIDA has also allocated $30 million for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission in low- and middle-income countries. For instance, Canada is working with the World Health Organization to increase access to, and the effectiveness of, comprehensive and integrated prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission services for mothers and children in three countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Canada is working closely with its United Nations partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS. For example, Canada provides ongoing financial support to UNAIDS. Canada also supports UNAIDS through other HIV investments with some of its UN co-sponsor organizations, including UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA , UNDP, WHO , UNESCO, and the World Bank Group.
Canada has always been an active supporter of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, contributing more than $1.5 billion to the fund since its founding in 2002, with the most recent pledge totalling $540 million over three years. Since 2004, thanks to the Global Fund:
As part of promoting equality between women and men and helping to reduce the vulnerability of women to HIV, Canada is supporting UN Women's Fund for Women's Property and Inheritance Rights. Through this project, between March 2010 and September 2011:
The Canada-funded Support to combat sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS in Haiti (PALIH) project, co-organized by the Center for International Cooperation in Health and Development and the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation, aims to reduce the prevalence of these diseases in the department of Artibonite by improving health system structures and the quality of services available to the general population and groups most at risk. In 2010:
Today, 99 percent of the health establishments in Bas-Artibonite offer community services and have at their disposal the entire range of drugs to combat sexually transmitted infections. Canada is contributing $19 million over six years to this project.
The second phase of the Rapid Funding Envelope for HIV/AIDS project in Tanzania provides grants to civil society organizations for short-term projects related to HIV/AIDS. The basic aim of the Rapid Funding Envelope (RFE) is to improve the capacity building of the organizations to deliver services where they will have a greater effect, that is, in the communities of Tanzania.
One of the projects funded by Canada as part of the RFE and managed by Chama cha Wazee na Wastaafu Arusha (Association for the Elderly and Retired in Arusha) helped lessen the effect of HIV/AIDS on the elderly who are suddenly called on to take care of HIV-positive relatives or to raise grandchildren orphaned by AIDS. As a result:
From 2006 to 2010, Canada contributed $2.9 million to the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre to support the second phase of the Centre's project on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in three districts of Zimbabwe: Chirumanzu, Shurugwi and Gutu. In 2010:
In South Africa, Canada provided $5 million to the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa to improve the delivery of sustainable palliative home care to HIV-infected individuals and their families. In 2010:
At the XVII International AIDS Conference, in 2008, Canada reaffirmed its commitment to the HIV/AIDS Response Fund in South Africa, with a view to helping local organizations reduce the incidence and prevalence of HIV/AIDS and the effect of the infection/disease on citizens. In all:
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