G20 leaders must heed call for HIV/AIDS meds
Activists demand change at annual AIDS candlelight vigil in Toronto
Jun 25 2010
STAFF REPORTER/Toronto Star
As hundreds gathered
in a downtown Toronto park Thursday night for the annual AIDS candlelight vigil, Tim Morley shook his head and studied a nearby memorial wall.
He leaned in closer, shook his head and gently ran his hands over the stainless steel plaque containing names of more than 2,600 Torontonians who have succumbed to the disease.
His fingers stopped at the name of a former room mate, then an old friend, and then another old friend. He sighed.
"I knew a lot of these people," said Morley, 55, who nearly died himself after being diagnosed with HIV in 1994, but is now healthy and currently on a combination drug therapy.
"The HIV-positive community and those affected by HIV/AIDS need to find their voice, a collective voice, so others in society understand their needs."
One of those needs, he said, is to ensure that those living worldwide with HIV/AIDS have timely access to medication and care. It's a message he hopes will resonate
with the global leaders who are in over the weekend.
"Politicians need to quit worrying about money and make generic drugs available. Quit talking about it, just do it. I get frustrated with talk of finances when there's
a lot of people dying."
It was a frustration that was palpable amongst many at the annual AIDS Candlelight Vigil held in Cawthra Square Park , nestled
in the city's gay and lesbian village near Church and Wellesley Sts.
The event, which attracted about 1,000 people, was to remember, honour and celebrate the lives of those who have died of AIDS or AIDS-related illnesses. This year, 24 names were added to the memorial wall.
Community activist Omar Torres, one of the co-hosts of the event, drew a loud round of applause when he told the crowd that he hopes G20 leaders address their failure to provide necessary care to those living with HIV/AIDS.
"AIDS is not over yet, not for us in Canada and not for the millions who go without treatment around the world," said Torres.
"AIDS will not be over until the rights we have fought for and have won here in Canada are there for everyone in every city, town and village and in every country of the world."
Organizers estimate there are 12 million people living with HIV/AIDS around the world who need access to life-saving medication and care.
In 2005, leaders at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, promised to provide life-saving medicine to AIDS patients around the world by 2010. They have so far failed to keep their promise.
Toronto Star - News
"Reproduced with permission - Torstar Syndication Services"