Thursday, August 17, 2006

And now for something completely different

Unless you are living on a rock, or visiting the most northern permanent inhabited settlement in the world, you know there is an HIV/AIDS conference happening in Toronto. If you have heard Stephen Lewis speak on the subject, then you know how dire this is. Well, it is if you are living in a third world country. If you live in any western nation with proper, socialized health care, then AIDS isn't a death sentence. If you have contracted HIV/AIDS in the third world, kiss your ass good-bye and ship the kids off to Grandma's because she's going to be the only one left who is healthy enough to take care of them, regardless of her age.

If you have heard Stephen Lewis speak, you also know it doesn't have to be this way. If you are a woman who is pregnant with HIV/AIDS there are drugs which will reduce, by ninety per-cent, the possibility of your unborn baby contracting the virus from you. In Canada, you would get that drug as a mere matter of course, besides the anti-retroviral drugs, in other parts of the world you will not. In some countries it isn't even the economics of that particular drug, it's just not policy. This leads to the crux of HIV/AIDS, there are socio-economic issues which make this disease more complicated than, for example, SARS. HIV/AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease, for the most part, and nice people don't talk about sex. Nice people don't talk about sex even in some societies where, for 25% of woman their first sexual experience is forced. If you live in that society, what does absinence mean to you? There are also gender power issues. If you live in a society where some people are viewed as property, what does it mean to hand out condoms, if you don't have the power to insist your sexual partner use one?

The slogan of this year's conference is "Time to Deliver". My Prime Minister couldn't be bothered to show up at the conference, in his stead, the Health Minister shows up and promises to "review" a law that was supposed to allow generic drugs to be manufactured and shipped to people who are dying. Let me repeat that: The Health Minister promised to "review" the law that was supposed to allow generic drugs to be manufactured and shipped to people who are dying. When the AIDS conference is over, what do you think will happen to that review?

You can send your comments by e-mail to or write or fax the Prime Minister’s office at:

Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
K1A 0A2

Fax: 613-941-6900

Or you could contact the Minister of Health, the Honourable Tony Clement


Minister's Office - Health Canada
Brooke Claxton Building, Tunney's Pasture
Postal Locator: 0906C
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1A 0K9


(613) 952-1154


Thank you for letting me vent. And now back you our regular programming.

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