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Durban Diary – Day eight

Thursday, 21 July 2016 Written by // Bob Leahy - Editor Categories // International AIDS Conference , As Prevention , CATIE, Legal, Treatment, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Bob Leahy

Making history. Bob Leahy reports from the International AIDS Conference. Day eight finds him joining in the launch of an important new Canadian statement designed to move us forward to the end of AIDS while protecting our rights

Durban Diary – Day eight

Today was an exciting day for us in Durban.

It was day of protests. It was also the long awaited launch of the Canadian Consensus Statement on the health and prevention benefits of HIV antiretroviral medications and HIV testing.

That’s a long title to describe something that builds upon the science that has proved the benefits of treatment, testing, PrEP and PEP, emphasizing the human rights issues which their rollout brings up and brings us together in a common progressive and affirmative position. It was developed over the last eighteen months by a coalition consisting of CATIE, CTAC and John McCullagh, our publisher, and myself were intrinsically involved in every step of the way. 

Why do we in Canada need a comprehensive consensus statement like this? Simply put, we as a community have not held a common position on such things as the benefits of wide access to treatment, the efficacy of PrEP as a powerful prevention tool and the need for ramped up testing, acknowledging all the human rights issues involved in each. This document was developed with A LOT of community consultation, including a widely circulated review of the draft, also posted on the internet for input. 

I like it, of course, and I hope you do too. Which is where the community comes in. We want you to express support for moving forward by signing the statement. Let's get together on this .

Today’s launch at AIDS2016 saw Tim Rogers and myself manning a poster exhibit setting out the details of the statement and the process we followed to arrive at it. You can see photos of us doing just that in this post. Tomorrow we man the Canada Pavilion here to talk more with visitors to AIDS2016 about it. 

The statement provides a road map for achieving the UNAIDS global target to end HIV. Known as 90/90/90, the target, endorsed by Canada’s Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott, states that by the year 2020: 

· 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 

· 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 

· 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression. 

“We call on everyone in Canada with a stake in ending the HIV epidemic to sign on to the Canadian Consensus Statement,” says Glenn Betteridge, policy researcher at the Canadian Treatment Action Council (CTAC), who helped hugely in the drafting the language of the statement. “It is high time we all worked together and promoted greater integration and innovation in policy and programs to better support people throughout the continuum of HIV prevention and treatment services.” 

My CATIE colleague Tim Rogers, pictured here today said “raising awareness about today’s HIV treatment and prevention options is one key to achieving the 90/90/90 goals. People’s health is best protected and promoted when they are able to make fully informed and voluntary decisions about their own medical care. The principles outlined in the Canadian Consensus Statement can help ensure people have the information they need.” 

So that’s what I did, amongst other things today – promoting the consensus statement. 

People can endorse the Canadian Consensus Statement at I invite all those involved in the HIV response in Canada to sign on. Collectively, it’s time we moved beyond the artificial dividing lines between HIV treatment and prevention, traditional healthcare and community support, human rights and public health, and HI-negative people and those people living with HIV. 

In other news, there is just too much going on here in Durban to fit into my daily update here so am I increasingly using my own Facebook page for this. Go there if you want a more complete picture of the colour and excitement that is unfolding each and every day here. 

It’s such a privilege to be here in so many ways . . .