National HIV Testing Week ends on Monday, building on the success of Testing Days of 2018, 2019.
The director general of the CBS, Gary Lacasse, wants “sexual health screenings to be recognized as an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Why talk about it today? To make screening accessible, to disseminate the right information, to promote health and safe practices, to encourage dialogue, help seeking and end stigma. And because the 1is December will be World AIDS Day.
HIV status in 2020
Even if the relationship with the disease has changed considerably, the fact remains that the announcement of the diagnosis has a considerable impact on the lives of people declared HIV-positive, their partners, as well as their families.
If, 30 years ago, people were considered plague victims and that the announcement of the disease guaranteed them an almost certain death in the months that followed, the subject of HIV, AIDS, still remains taboo. Fears and worries are still on the lips.
Benoît and Claude, in a relationship for 10 years, both HIV-positive with almost 30 years of age difference, say: “When my doctor told me that I was HIV-positive, he told me at the same time that he I didn’t have much time to live. It was 1989. The disease would take over and I would die of its complications. Assured Kaposi’s sarcoma and other disturbances would lead to my death, all accompanied by intense suffering and, on top of that, I was doomed to die alone, in a dying of AIDS. People were afraid of this disease like the plague. Apart to be treated, looked askance at dinner with “friends”, I put in quotes because that’s when I saw who my real friends were. Plague victims. Looking back, I understand them, the information was so alarming that we couldn’t really help it. I was trying to survive, not to understand other people. We went from “we are HIV positive” to “we have AIDS” in less than two. I thought I was going crazy. I had friends who were dying around me, too, even though they were on AZT. But the years have passed, the treatments have become more precise, have become better, and I am not dead! “.
The story is different for Benoit, who was diagnosed in 2004.
But even if, in 2020, people will no longer die of the disease, too many are still living from precariousness, social isolation, discrimination and stigmatization.
Break the isolation
With mentalities evolving resources, possibilities to break the silence to obtain help, comfort and believe in one’s future through mutual aid, support and good care.
Today, thanks to effective treatments, the disease is no longer transmitted.
According to data from Santé Montréal, in Montréal, approximately 10,000 people are living with HIV.
Current treatments allow them to have better health and a life expectancy similar to that of the general population. These same treatments also prevent transmission of the virus during sex.