Harper Can Make Up for His Absence

Published: Wednesday, 08/16/2006 12:00 am EDT

I would like to commend Stephen Lewis for bringing to light Canada's hypocrisy (Re: "Fight Against AIDS Losing Steam" Aug. 9). This year's AIDS Conference is being held in Toronto, and brings together over 20,000 health ministers, heads of state, scientists, activists, and journalists from nearly every country in the world. With Canada hosting such an esteemed event, I was shocked to learn that Stephen Harper is choosing not to attend. Perhaps the prime minister could make up for this questionable absence by taking action and committing Canada to a sustainable initiative of 5 by 5. This critical step would assure those in need that Canada will spend our fair share of 5 per cent of the resources needed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria for the next five years. Also addressing TB is vital, as TB remains the leading killer among HIV positive persons. Treating TB with a $15 six-month course of drugs is also the cheapest method of improving the life of someone living with HIV/AIDS. Treating TB can be a critical entry point for people to be tested for HIV. In the words of Nelson Mandela at the last AIDS conference in Thailand, "We cannot win the battle against AIDS if we do not also fight TB. TB is too often a death sentence for people with AIDS".

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