Politics of Blood (BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS)

“I don’t remember much of that day when I got my test back, but what I do remember is being in a tiny white room with a complete stranger, 18 years old and frightened,” recounted Kecia Larkin.

On September 11th, 1989, Larkin, a Canadian woman from the Kwa’kwa’wakw and Peigan First Nations in British Columbia, was diagnosed with HIV. She acquired the virus through unprotected sex and sharing intravenous needles with her boyfriend of 8 months who discovered his HIV+ status too late. Now in her 40s, Larkin is a leading advocate for HIV awareness in Canadian aboriginal communities. She believes the Canadian federal government has been complicit in the deaths of indigenous people living with HIV and that major changes are needed to take place to fix a system that has been broken since the AIDS epidemic began.

In the realm of HIV/AIDS policy, Harper drew international criticism when he refused to implement the UNAIDS 90­90­90 target that seeks to ensure that by the year 2020 that 90% of people living with HIV will know their status, 90% of those diagnosed will receive antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 90% of those on ART will have viral suppression. Julio Montaner, Director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and former President of the International AIDS Society, lamented the decision and declared that Canada has the capacity and resources to implement the 90­90­90 target. Larkin articulated her grievances more bluntly: “Harper killed a lot of people in British Columbia.”

Kyle Ranieri writes.

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