Canada: Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Task Force Setting Up as a Society
July 15, 2009
A task force to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic among British Columbia's aboriginal people is working to become an official entity under the province's Societies Act. The move would give the group control of its own funding, which is now administered by Carrier Sekani Family Services, and make it eligible for other types of funding.
From 1998 to 2007, aboriginal people accounted for 107 new HIV diagnoses in the region, while 58 non-aboriginal cases were reported, according to Northern Health Medical Officer Dr. William Osei.
The move to form a society gained strong support from chiefs and councils at the 2009 Northern British Columbia Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Task Force meeting held earlier this month in Prince George. At the meeting, chiefs directed task force officials to create a draft forming the legal entity, with a mandate to include HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment; addiction services; and safe houses. The draft will be presented to all 63 northern nations for possible approval during September's meeting of chiefs and councils.
"A big issue is funding, and we have to make sure that health authorities and governments recognize that HIV is a big concern," said Ken Clemont, CEO of the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network in Edmonton. "In order to eliminate it within communities, there needs to be long-term funding to plan ahead and make a difference."
About 300 people attended the conference to learn about the task force's work in the field and discuss its future. The group also got feedback from 50 youth leaders who have been trained in HIV/AIDS issues over the past two years. Eighteen percent of new infections are among aboriginal youths, the second-highest rate in Canada.
Prince George Citizen
07.08.2009; Bernice Trick
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.