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Nothing about us, without us: Indigenous peoples lead from the front to #endAIDS

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Nothing about us, without us: Indigenous peoples lead from the front to #endAIDS

SHOBHA SHUKLA - CNS

Doris Peltier, indigenous peoples rights leader is among the Plenary Speakers of world's largest AIDS conference AIDS 2022 in Montreal Canada
Doris Peltier, indigenous peoples rights leader is among the Plenary Speakers of world's largest AIDS conference AIDS 2022 in Montreal Canada
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Indigenous peoples are among those in Canada where disproportionately high numbers of new HIV infections occur. Indigenous women are even more represented in those living with HIV. While Canada hosts the world's largest AIDS conference (24th International AIDS Conference - AIDS 2022) in Montreal, it is facing the heat from human rights' activists who say its funding for HIV has remained fixed at around Canadian dollars 73 million per year since 2008, while the number of people living with HIV in Canada has gone up by 25%. Though the demand for HIV services has risen but funding shortfall has forced many community-based initiatives to shut down.

A new report, In Danger, launched by UNAIDS just ahead of AIDS 2022, records marked inequalities within and between countries, including racial inequalities, that are stalling progress to end AIDS by 2030. Also, HIV acquisition rates are higher in indigenous communities than in non-indigenous communities in Canada, Australia and USA.

Doris Peltier, Community Engagement Coordinator with the Feast Centre for Indigenous STBBI Research (STBBI stands for sexually transmitted blood-borne infections), at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, who is among the plenary speakers for AIDS 2022, was in exclusive conversation with CNS Executive Director Shobha Shukla. Doris has been very actively involved with the Indigenous HIV movement in Canada since almost two decades.

Stigma lurks

"When it comes to HIV and AIDS, the biggest social barrier is stigma. We still have stigma in our First Nations communities and in our Inuit communities. People still believe in some of the myths associated with HIV and so there is still a lot of educating the community that needs to happen,' said Doris.

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