Social Justice and Democracy

Canada’s unions mark World AIDS Day with call for equality of care

December 1, 2019

Canada’s unions will mark World AIDS Day on December 1, acknowledging that an HIV positive diagnosis is no longer an automatic death sentence.

With effective treatment and care, many people living with HIV are leading long and healthy lives. In 1990, a 20-year-old diagnosed with HIV was not expected to live past the age of 40—today, that same person could live to age 70. Between 2000 and 2018, HIV-related deaths fell 45 percent worldwide.

Unfortunately, the cost and accessibility of treatment regimes in Canada varies from province to province. In some provinces, access to HIV medication is covered in all cases, while in others, access depends on how a person was exposed to the virus and whether or not they have private insurance. Coupled with drug prices as high as $1,000/month, the inequity of coverage intensifies.

“Provinces with little to no coverage are forcing Canadians to make tough decisions about medications. These inconsistencies stress the issue that no health care system is truly universal without coverage for medications,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Canadians with life-threatening illnesses deserve a universal pharmacare plan that would ensure they can get the medication they need, when they need it, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay. We all deserve that peace of mind.”

As part of World AIDS Day, the World Health Organization is calling for universal health coverage around the world. Canada’s unions want to ensure that coverage includes adding prescription medication to our valued public health care system.

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