Canada’s House of Commons Committee To Consider National HIV/AIDS Strategy
The Canadian House of Commons Health Committee yesterday heard testimony from HIV/AIDS advocates regarding the federal Canadian HIV/AIDS Strategy, the CP/Toronto Star reports. The strategy, instituted in 1992, provides $42.2 million a year to support HIV/AIDS prevention, research and treatment in the country (Bueckert, CP/Toronto Star, 3/17). But funding has been "frozen" at that amount since the program's inception, while the number of HIV-positive people in the country has risen to more than 54,000, from fewer than 30,000 in 1992. HIV/AIDS advocates at the hearing were expected to testify that the program's funding is "grossly inadequate" and call for funding to be increased to $85 million, the Toronto Globe and Mail reports. A coalition of community groups, scientists and patients were also expected to focus on the "economic burden of the disease" and how "investing in prevention pays big dividends," according to the Globe and Mail. Martin Schecter of the Canadian HIV Trials Network, said, "We've struggled through the past 11 years with a flat budget, and it's really beginning to have a deleterious effect. The cracks are really beginning to show" (Picard, Toronto Globe and Mail, 3/17). Witnesses at the hearing were also expected to discuss the rising incidence of HIV among aboriginals and blacks in the country, the CP/Star reports. Schecter said, "This epidemic is far from under control, it is moving relentlessly in vulnerable populations and we are very far from having a cure." Farah Mohamed, a spokesperson for Canada's Health Minister Anne McLellan, said that she would not "encourage expectations of increased funding," according to the CP/Star. She added that the current funding level is a "significant amount of money" (CP/Toronto Star, 3/17). Louise Binder, chair of the Canadian Treatment Action Council/Voices of Positive Women, and Sheena Sargent, education programs coordinator for YouthCo AIDS Society, were also expected to testify (House of Commons Web site, 3/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.