A Call for Action

We know what has to be done. Now is the time to act.

More than 20 years after the first AIDS case was diagnosed, HIV is still with us. Despite progress in both prevention and treatment, HIV continues to cause great harm and loss. A virus that many hoped would be eradicated in the 1980s has now infected and killed millions around the world. Faced with the catastrophic impact of HIV globally and rising rates of infection at home, we in Canada are at a turning point in our fight against HIV.

Do we accept that AIDS will be with us always -- a debilitating illness that continues to steal people's health and lives -- or do we redouble our efforts to stop the ravages of this preventable disease?

We have chosen to renew our efforts. Leading Together: Canada Takes Action on HIV/AIDS (2005-2010) is a hopeful new phase in our collective response to AIDS. It sets out an ambitious coordinated nationwide approach to tackling not just HIV but the underlying health and social issues that contribute to new infections and have devastating effects on people who are infected.

We know what has to be done. Now is the time to act.

Together we can: Leadership in a world of AIDS,
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS),
June 2001

This made-in-Canada response to HIV is a call for action.

Over the past 20 years, communities throughout Canada have developed an array of programs and services designed to raise public awareness, prevent the spread of HIV, reduce discrimination, and prolong life for people with HIV/AIDS (PHAs). Hundreds of individuals, organizations and governments across the country are actively involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS, from community-based AIDS organizations and PHAs 1 to physicians and other health professionals, public health units, researchers, human rights activists, advocacy groups, harm reduction services, addictions programs, correctional facilities, organizations that support prisoners, organizations that work with street youth, school boards and health teachers, organizations that work with new immigrants, Aboriginal organizations, housing programs, social service organizations, palliative care programs, and municipal, provincial, territorial and federal governments. For some, HIV is their main focus. For others, it is only a part of what they do.

While there is a great deal of activity throughout the country, it is not always coordinated. This document, which is based on widespread consultation with people across Canada, provides a blueprint for a strategic and coordinated Canadian response to the epidemic. It encourages effective partnerships between jurisdictions, within the health care system and with other sectors beyond health that have an impact on HIV, such as social services, education, housing and justice. It also encourages the meaningful participation of people most affected by HIV.

By acting strategically, working collaboratively and sharing our knowledge, skills and resources, all within a common framework, we will be more effective. By leading together, we will come closer faster to achieving our common goals. Together, we have the potential to stop HIV.

How Leading Together Was Developed

2000: Gray Rocks meeting

  • Need for a plan with measurable objectives identified

2002: Montreal meeting

  • Mobilization on the plan

2002: Ste-Adèle meeting

  • First draft plan developed

2003/04

  • National, broad consultations

2005

  • Revisions, publication

As with all effective HIV approaches in Canada, Leading Together has been developed collaboratively. A large number of people have had a hand in determining the actions set out in these pages. Under the leadership of a small steering committee and with the support of Health Canada, broad consultations were held in 2003 to solicit feedback on the document. AIDS service organizations, clinicians and other health care professionals, researchers, national HIV/AIDS organizations and governments at all levels participated in face-to-face meetings. Special emphasis was placed on involving people living with HIV/AIDS and people at risk of HIV/AIDS, including gay men, people who use injection drugs, Aboriginal people, youth, women, people from countries where HIV is endemic and prisoners. A national on-line survey was also used to solicit feedback on the draft. Between 2002 and 2005, the process of revising the document recognized that the strength of Leading Together lies in its ongoing use and development.

Purpose of Leading Together

Leading Together is a blueprint for Canada's response to HIV/AIDS to 2010.

It lays out the optimal, ideal response to HIV/AIDS in Canada in the third decade of the epidemic. It presents our collective view of what is needed for the future and pushes all those involved in the fight against HIV to seek better ways to respond to the virus. Leading Together is a living document that is intended to inspire action on all fronts so that we can all do more and do it better. It challenges us to use our imagination and energy to get ahead of the epidemic. It lays out the optimal, ideal response to HIV/AIDS in Canada in the third decade of the epidemic. It presents our collective view of what is needed for the future and pushes all those involved in the fight against HIV to seek better ways to respond to the virus. Leading Together is a living document that is intended to inspire action on all fronts so that we can all do more and do it better. It challenges us to use our imagination and energy to get ahead of the epidemic.

Leading Together responds to calls from throughout Canada for a more strategic and coordinated approach to addressing HIV/AIDS in Canada. It encourages strategic thinking and planning and a sharing of responsibility. It provides an opportunity for increasing our partnerships, aligning our efforts and making more effective use of our collective knowledge, skills and resources.

Leading Together challenges governments, organizations and individuals to:

  • make strategic decisions about how to use our resources
  • identify priorities and actions that will have the greatest impact (i.e., some organizations may have a role to play in all aspects of the document, some may be involved in only one activity and some may select a few priorities that fit within their mandate and resources)
  • set out their plans to 2010 and consider how they will contribute to achieving the pan-Canadian targets, desired outcomes, goals and vision described in the document
  • use the document to build better working relationships with other organizations that serve the same communities or share common goals
  • monitor their initiatives and report on progress
  • participate in ongoing efforts to ensure the document continues to reflect the optimal response to HIV in Canada, given that the plan will need to evolve as the epidemic and its response both continue to shift

Governments and organizations across Canada have been calling for a more strategic, coordinated approach to HIV. This document is a guide to help individuals, organizations, communities, provinces, territories and the federal government identify their roles and priorities to 2010. It encourages strategic thinking, research and planning and a sharing of responsibility.

All governments and organizations involved in HIV/AIDS research, policy development, planning or service delivery are already part of a pan-Canadian response: their activities contribute to efforts to achieve common goals. The document will give governments and organizations an opportunity to align their work within a larger plan, to work more closely with other partners and to make more effective use of their collective knowledge, skills and resources.

In this way, we will lead together.

1
for the purposes of this report, the terms "people living with HIV/AIDS," "people with HIV/AIDS" and PHAs will be used interchangeably to represent the full experience of being infected and both living with and dying of HIV/AIDS.

top of page