Canada Invests in HIV Research

Canada invests in HIV research that will ensure we have the tools to fight HIV and end the AIDS epidemic.

In marking World AIDS Day, Health Minister Jane Philpott delivered welcome news to the research community—the federal government will increase its commitment to funding HIV and AIDS research by $3.5 million.

Canada currently invests approximately $50 million annually in research. The additional commitment will be invested in raising awareness about HIV and in treatment efforts.

The goal is for Canada to reach the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets—90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status are accessing treatment and 90% of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads.

In addition to the funding announcement, the federal government also revealed Canada’s progress on the UNAIDS targets. An estimated 80% of HIV infected persons are diagnosed, 76% of those diagnosed are on treatment, and 89% of those on treatment have suppressed viral loads. This is the first time these estimates have been developed as a national aggregate.

This is all very good news. Our country’s investment in research will ensure that we have the tools to fight HIV and end the AIDS epidemic.

Canada has some of the leading researchers in the world in the field of HIV and AIDS. Canadian researchers were part of the international team in the 1990s that developed the combination drug therapy that suppresses the virus. Without this treatment advancement, we wouldn’t be able to begin to even discuss 90-90-90 targets or express hope for an AIDS-free generation.

Canadian researchers have also helped to develop prevention strategies that have virtually eliminated the risk of HIV transmission between mother-to-child transmission and developed accurate, rapid HIV tests to reduce barriers to screening. Many of these advances were funded with support from the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR).

However, there’s still much work to be done. Treatment must be improved to reduce the burden it has on those living with HIV and prevention strategies are needed, especially those that support key-affected communities like gay and bisexual men, injecting drug users, and Aboriginal people. We must also continue to support vaccine and cure research.

We’re pleased to join the federal government in recognizing the importance of supporting outstanding Canadian research. This is just the start.

Authored by Christopher Bunting, President & CEO, CANFAR