(Winnipeg, MB) Long-time AIDS activist Dr. Albert McLeod is calling for a national inquiry to investigate the failed interventions and poor policies that have led to the dramatic increase of HIV among Indigenous people in Canada. On December 1, 2022, World AIDS Day, the Manitoba HIV Program released an overview of HIV statistics from 2018-2021. The number of people newly diagnosed with HIV and living in the province increased from 111 in 2018 to 169 in 2021, an increase of 52 per cent. Further, Dr. Ken Kasper estimates Manitoba will see more than 200 new diagnoses of HIV this year. Most of these cases are Indigenous people.

“Our federal, provincial, and territorial governments must take the TRC Calls for Action and the recent MMIWG Inquiry findings and national action plan into account when planning strategies and interventions to address this HIV/AIDS public health disaster.” Dr. McLeod stated, “After Pope Francis affirmed that the Roman Catholic Church perpetrated genocide when it ran the majority of Indian Residentials Schools in Canada, we cannot go back to old logic models that are ineffectual and do not take this truth into account.”

HIV cases among Indigenous people have steadily increased over the past 40 years since the pandemic began and governments have consistently failed to provide culturally safe interventions and adequate funding to reduce these infections. Indigenous women are increasingly being affected despite the MMIWG Inquiry’s 231 Calls for Justice.

“HIV infection is preventable in the 21st century,” Dr. McLeod continued, “we need an inquiry like the 1993 Krever Commission that examined how governmental systems failed to protect blood products and caused an HIV outbreak among hemophiliacs. At this moment, Indigenous people are being failed by the same systems.”

Canada’s medical services are currently stressed as they continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic making it difficult for the newly diagnosed to access timely treatment and social supports. The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is, “Equalize”. The responsibility sits with our governments to equalize HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, treatment, and social supports for Indigenous peoples.

Contact: 2Spirit Consultants of Manitoba – bizonred@gmail.com 204-330-8671

Related Link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-hiv-program-report-