QUEEN'S PARK – The NDP critic for LGBTQ Issues Terence Kernaghan released a statement on World AIDS Day:
"On World AIDS Day, we show support to people living with HIV/AIDS and remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.
As politicians, today is a reminder we must listen to those living with the disease and ensure they get the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention options they need.
More than 30,000 Ontarians live with HIV/AIDS. Despite dramatic improvements in treatment and prevention, this number continues to grow, especially among LGBTQ+, racialized, and vulnerable individuals.
Our work must include a critical look at how poverty, racism, homophobia and transphobia intersect with access to health care and prevention.
We can put a stop to HIV/AIDS in our lifetime. Medical experts and community advocates maintain that with proper government support, we have the critical scientific advances in HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and outbreak response to end the HIV/AIDS crisis.
The clearest way to accomplish this is by granting universal access to PrEP, proven to be highly effective in preventing HIV infection for individuals at high risk, reducing the risk of acquiring HIV by up to 97 percent.
But today, in 2020, PrEP isn’t covered in Ontario. PrEP can cost about $1,000 a month.
One in four Ontarians isn’t filling their prescription medications because they can’t afford them. This is particularly true of LGBTQ+ Ontarians, a group that often lives with precarious employment and lack of access to health benefits – a situation worsened by COVID-19.
The Ontario NDP is fighting for universal pharmacare — a drug plan that covers everyone. That plan must include full coverage for PrEP. Ontario must finally join the seven other Canadians provinces that fully cover this life-saving HIV-prevention treatment.
Too often, people living with HIV/AIDS face stigma and discrimination that impacts their self-image, self-worth, and their emotional and mental health. Nobody should feel ashamed of their HIV/AIDS status. Any person can be impacted by HIV/AIDS. As legislators, we have a duty to do everything possible to eliminate the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
On World AIDS Day, we mourn those lost to us because of this disease, and stand in solidarity with those still living with HIV/AIDs. Together, we can build a world without shame or stigma. We can tackle the fear and misinformation. And we can end HIV/AIDS in our lifetime."