An open letter to Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement

Here’s my personalized version of the Make Poverty History letter to mark World AIDS Day.

Dear Minister Clement,

At the XVI International AIDS conference in Toronto in August, you promised to announce new initiatives to combat the pandemic. I am still waiting. So are millions of people suffering with HIV/AIDS in the developing world.

Since the conference, nearly 750,000 women, men and children have died from AIDS-related causes. With every passing day, more will suffer and die.

In 1989 I was diagnosed HIV-positive and immediately began treatment with AZT. Soon thereafter I developed an AIDS-related illness which nearly killed me.

By 1995 I was on the first line of anti-retroviral therapies under trials. Over these years it has not been easy. The drugs have been hard on me physically. Yet I have survived.

What makes my life any more worthy of saving than the poorest people on earth? Nothing.

I would like to know now what the Government of Canada is planning to do to support HIV prevention and to ensure all people have access to HIV/AIDS treatment and care by 2010.

Will we:

– Pay our fair share of AIDS prevention, care and treatment in developing countries by: providing 5% of what is needed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria through 2010 ; doubling current funding for domestic and international vaccines and microbicides research ; setting a timetable for raising our other aid contributions to 0.7% of national income?

– Invest in public health care systems in developing countries, including supporting their efforts to train and retain desperately needed health care workers?

– Promote the immediate and unconditional cancellation of 100% of the debt of the countries most burdened by AIDS and poverty?

– Remove red tape in Canada’s law on exporting lower-cost medicines?

– Sustain the financial health of the InSite program in Vancouver?

Mr. Clement, World AIDS Day is December 1st. It’s long past time to deliver.


Kenn Chaplin
(postal address removed)
Toronto, ON


Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada;

Hon. Josee Verner, Minister for International Cooperation;

Hon. Bill Graham, MP Toronto Centre (and interim Liberal leader);

Hon. Jack Layton, Leader, New Democratic Party of Canada

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