The federal government gets a failing grade on supporting girls and women in the fight against HIV/AIDS, according to a new report card by an advocacy group.
Tuesday's report by the Coalition for a Blueprint for Action on Women and Girls and HIV/AIDS assigned Ottawa poor grades for funding cuts, laws and practices that it says run counter to the evidence on how to stem the disease.
For a country rich in resources, Canada is doing poorly on fighting HIV/AIDS because of a lack of political will, charges Louise Binder, a Canadian lawyer diagnosed with HIV in 1994, and who is part of the coalition.
"We have certain populations in Canada that are actually in Third World conditions as it relates to prevention, care, support, and legal and ethical issues," Binder said in an interview with CBC Radio's Metro Morning from the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.
"The aboriginal population that makes up less than three per cent of our overall population has more than 10 per cent of the infections. Half of them are women."
If the federal government was doing a good job in prevention, then those numbers in Canada would drop, Binder said.
Federal funding has been cut for about a dozen aboriginal health groups, aboriginal women's groups and the National Association of Women and the Law, Binder said in a release.
Health research investments
Binder called on the federal government to reverse those cuts as a starting point.
Funding for aboriginal HIV/AIDS groups has been protected, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq countered in an interview with CBC's Power and Politics from Washington, where she is attending the 19th International AIDS Conference.
"Since the reductions in other areas, our government invested an additional $25 million in aboriginal health research with aboriginal people by aboriginal people in partnerships with universities," Aglukkaq said. "We our protecting frontline health-care services."
Aglukkaq called it historic that aboriginal groups were part of the conference's main session, a change she said Canadians pushed for.
The International AIDS Conference ends Friday.
In an earlier version of this story, Louise Binder said the Canadian Human Rights Commission had its funding cut. The commission said three regional offices were closed in 2010 as part of a streamlining exercise, but disputes that the moves were funding-related.Jul 25, 2012 9:45 AM ET