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Canadian Positive People Network (CPPN)

Réseau canadien des personnes séropositives (RCPS)

"Equalize" for Equity and Access

« Égaliser » pour l’équité et l’accès »

In Quebec City in July 2022, Pope Francis called upon authorities and diplomats to "promot[e] the legitimate rights of the indigenous populations and to favour processes of healing and reconciliation between them and the non-indigenous people of the country." He acknowledged that Canada's residentials schools represented a "tragic example of 'cancel culture'". The CPPN stands in solidarity with our Indigenous brothers and sisters, and we share the Pope's affirmation 'decrying' this country's genocide of our Indigenous Peoples.

À Québec, en juillet 2022, le pape François a appelé les autorités et les diplomates à « [promouvoir] les droits légitimes des populations autochtones et à favoriser les processus de guérison et de réconciliation entre elles et les non-autochtones du pays ». Il a reconnu que les pensionnats destinés aux enfants autochtones du Canada représentaient un « exemple tragique de « cancel culture ». Le RCPS est solidaire de nos frères et sœurs autochtones, et nous partageons l’affirmation du pape « dénonçant » le génocide de nos peuples autochtones par ce pays.

Richard S. of London, Ontario shares his perspective

Asked how he defines what a long-term survivor is, Richard told us that “this is a difficult question. Easy answer is ten years, but I also feel that you don't have to have HIV to be a long-term survivor. A survivor is someone who has experienced the death of someone or has been a loved one or caregiver, such as doctors, nurses, family and loved ones of someone who lived with HIV. Also, a survivor can be some who has dealt with illness or the stigma of having HIV over a shorter period of time.”

To Richard, “AIDS at 40: Envisioning a Future We Never Imagined” (this year’s Long-term Survivors theme), mean that “people are having longer and maybe fuller lives with the use of antivirals since the 80s when the epidemic killed many gay men and people of colour. This also does not address the medical community valuing longevity over quality of life of people living with the side effects, stigma and poverty of many people living on HIV meds. I feel that we, as community, have become complacent in being case cows for the Pharmaceutical companies and are pushed to be grateful or be stigmatized by the greater HIV community.”

Asked what about HIV/AIDS has (or hasn’t) changed over time, Richard shared, “I think many things have changed; it’s not seen as a death sentence. Certain beliefs and stigmas around HIV infection have changed. Some attitudes about having sex with HIV-positive people have changed with introduction of PrEP.”

Richard believes that Canadian need to realize that Long-term Survivors “need more funding, more support.” He also thinks that Canadians need to know that “many of us also deal with job insecurity and symptoms from long-term use of medicines. Many of us also deal with stigmatization from the cultures and communities we come from. And some of us have difficulty maintaining relationships.”

To someone who is recently diagnosed with HIV, Richard would share with them that they should “get connected to doctors and outreach communities. They should read everything they can about their disease (the history, science, alternative medicines, and even the conspiracy around HIV).” Richard would also encourage someone newly diagnosed, don’t “be afraid. Take control of your health. Ask questions of your health care providers. And don't be afraid of the therapies.”

In conclusion, Richard shared that “as gay men, we have lost a lot of our elders; a whole a generation of gay men have died of HIV. I feel because of this the gay men’s community has internalized HIV stigma which is expressed through body obsession, ageism, body-shaming and an unhealthy obsession for being young and healthy.”