Last week, I attended a talk by the always-wonderful Stephen Lewis on the Give a Day initiative, a grassroots response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Give A Day challenges each Canadian to recognize World AIDS Day – today – by giving one day’s pay to the Stephen Lewis Foundation in their fight against what Lewis describes as the “worse pandemic ever in the world”. At a packed and riveted audience at Mount Sinai Hospital, Lewis told the audience what had motivated him to devote his career to this cause. It was, he said, the experience of witnessing one woman after another shrieking in anguish as their babies died through viral transmission. Lewis spoke about how gender inequality lies at the heart of the HIV/AIDS crisis, with as many as 75% of infections borne by girls and women, particularly those aged 15-24.
At the Wellesley Institute our work is focused on advancing population health, with a particular view to reducing health inequities (unfair and unjust differences between the health of different sub-populations). We have commissioned several research pieces on HIV/AIDS for different populations – immigrants and refugees, African communities, LGBT and two-spirited youth, and service providers. We were also the founding supporter in the Positive Spaces, Positive Places initiative (which made the link between good housing and good health) and played a key role in the formation of Tony Di Pede Affordable Housing Complex.