The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.,
Dear Prime Minister,
Just as we learned that 1.5 million new HIV infections were recorded last year, exceeding global targets by 1 million, that a young woman acquires HIV every two minutes and that one person dies of an AIDS-related illnesses every minute, Canada sent a troubling signal of disengagement.
We are writing to express our deep disappointment at Canada’s decision to deny hundreds of registered delegates entry to the country to attend AIDS 2022, the 24th International AIDS Conference, which kicked off in Montreal today. Excluding these delegates, who hail from the communities and countries most affected by HIV, is a blow to the global HIV community’s efforts to bring the HIV response back on track.
Ensuring broad participation at AIDS 2022 is vital for a simple reason: after four decades of responding to HIV, we know that we won’t reach our targets without involving all stakeholders at every level of the HIV response.
Underlying the difficulty experienced by many to enter Canada to attend AIDS 2022 lies a broader problem of global inequity that significantly impacts global health. HIV, in particular, has always disproportionally affected the most marginalized.
Canada not only agreed to host the world’s largest and most influential conference on HIV, but also committed to high-level government representation as part of the partnership. Minister Harjit S. Sajjan withdrew his participation on the eve of the conference opening.
Participating in the official opening ceremony was an opportunity for the federal government to address these concerns and to reiterate Canada’s commitment to promoting equity of access in all aspects of the global response to HIV.
Canada has historically been generous with its funding, but at this moment in time, the HIV response also requires a bold champion to drive the political will needed to help avert millions of needlessly lost lives.
We therefore extend a cordial invitation to you, Prime Minister Trudeau, to address the global HIV community at the AIDS 2022 closing ceremony and give you the opportunity to outline your vision for the HIV response at home and around the world.
AIDS 2022 International Co-Chair & President of the International AIDS Society
AIDS 2022 Local Co-Chair
Canadian Member of the International AIDS Society Governing Council