Kanu Handa from Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto writes…Stephen Lewis has a way of making people listen … and care. The former politician and diplomat turned international envoy for humanitarian efforts visited Mount Sinai Hospital and gave a personalized update on the HIV/AIDS pandemic to a packed auditorium. The fight against the disease, says Lewis, has never held so much potential for success or commanded so little government will and resources.
Dramatic improvement in the last decade, which has seen a decline in the number of infections and deaths, has lulled the international community into a sense of complacency. Yet with 33.3 million people living with HIV, 5.2 million in treatment and 10 million waiting for antiretroviral therapies, this is the worst pandemic — exacerbated by poverty and inequality — the world has ever seen.
Still there are reasons for hope: advances with gel microbicides, new strategies in dealing with high-risk groups and the understanding that treatment is prevention.
Giveaday.ca is a Canadian effort to ensure organizations like the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Dignitas International get the funds they desperately need to bring these solutions to communities, where Lewis says, “You can turn the tide; you can save lives”.
Founded by Dr. Jane Philpott, Chief of Family Medicine at Markham Stouffville Hospital, it challenges Canadians to honour World AIDS Day on December 1 by donating one day’s pay to organizations that fight the disease.
Stressing Mount Sinai’s commitment, Dr. Maureen Shandling, SVP, Medical, said, “Our mission to care doesn’t end at the doors of this Hospital.” Dr. Tom Stewart, Mount Sinai’s Physician-in-Chief and Chief Clinical Officer translated that sentiment into action with a cheque to Giveaday.ca, urging others to do the same on December 1 – a simple act to make an important difference.