HIV/AIDS and the Status of Women

Canadians used to think about HIV/AIDS as a problem that only affected people in Sub-Saharan Africa, or homosexual males.

Thanks to the efforts of many activists this perception has shifted, and there is a broader awareness of its challenges among the general population.

On May 12, 2009 I will be part of a Canadian delegation that is presenting at the United Nations at the 53 Session on the Commision on the Status of Women. As one of the few law students in the group, I will try to address some of the legal and policy issues facing women in regards to HIV/AIDS in Canada.

One of the more controversial legal issues in Canada is around safe injection sites. Despite clear evidence of its effectiveness in reducing transmission, there has been significant political opposition to these programs and the optics of supposedly supporting drug use.

Charter issues also arise in the context of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and as David Shulman points out, the constitutionality of this legislation may be in question given R. v. Parker, R. v. Malmo-Levine, and PHS Community Services Society v. Canada (Attorney General).

But people with HIV/AIDS also face unique issues in our legal system generally, which is why the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic (Ontario) (HALCO) offers free legal services to this community.

Canada is taking a leadership role in the global community, not just in raising awareness, but in researching and developing products that can be used in harm reduction.

The majority of the delegation, consisting of MBA students from the Richard Ivey School of Business, will outline some of these strategies.

You will be able to see some of our findings and deliverables on a new site we’ve set up. There isn’t much content yet, but we’ll slowly be adding materials over the next couple weeks.

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