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Ottawa to Prioritize Visas for Montreal AIDS Conference | AIDS: on the trail of a pandemic

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Scheduled for July 29 to August 2, AIDS 2022 will host approximately 8,000 attendees.

But a portion of them have still not obtained the necessary visa. Of the delegates who are uncertain, 70% come from Africa, says Dr. Jean-Pierre Routy, who co-chairs the conference.

The continent that needs visas the most to come to Canada is Africadescribed this professor from the Department of Medicine at McGill University on Tuesday, both on the RDI channel and on ICI Première.

Dr. Routy explains that visas are given by the embassies in each country and that a lack of staff was the cause of the delays.

Even if tomorrow they have their visa, we cannot hope that they will be able to book a plane and arrive. »

A quote from Dr Jean-Pierre Routy on RDI

Certainly, participants will be able to participate in virtual mode at the conference. But what is serious, the heart of the problemis that it is in Africa that there are the most cases of HIV/AIDS in the world, continued Dr Routy, and Of course, we need to work with them, to have their ideas, to grasp the problems.

Longer than usual delays

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said in writing on Tuesday that priority would be givenAnnual International AIDS Conference”,”text”:”to process visa applications for delegates attending the 24th Annual International AIDS Conference”}}”>processing visa applications for delegates attending the 24th Annual International AIDS Conference.

The ministry adds that it has taken all possible measures to speed up the processing of requests and facilitate travel for this event.

However, he admits knowing longer than usual processing times for visitor visa applications.

In late June, the conference organization, along with 250 organizations around the world, wrote to Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, hoping to speed up the process.

Sean Fraser speaks while seated at a press table.

Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser

Photo: The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld

The Government of Canada provided $4 million for this event, a welcome contribution, says Dr. Routy. But, on the other hand, this same government blocks or has deadlines to give visas […]he describes.

The organizing committee of the conference also grants 1,200 scholarships to foreign participants, mainly those from developing countries. Dr. Routy estimates that about 300 fellows are awaiting visas.

We are stuck: [parmi] those who benefit from these scholarships, a certain number will not be able to come to Montreal. »

A quote from Dr. Jean-Pierre Routy

This conference is all the more important since, for three years, no meeting on the subject could be held in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, still due to the pandemic, many services and care could not be provided optimally, explained Dr. Routy.

Health and safety in Montreal

On the AIDS 2022 website, the organizing committee explains why it chose Montreal: the host city must be able to provide high standards in terms of health and safety, as many of the participants are immunosuppressed or work closely with people who are.

In addition, the organizing committee works closely with the host city to ensure that various key groups are treated equally and safely: the LGBTQ community, people living with the acquired immunodeficiency virus, sex workers and users. injection drugs.

In the global fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, Canada is a recognized leader, the website also says.

On Tuesday, Dr Routy reiterated the importance of maintaining international remittances to Africa to maintain coverage of antiretroviral drugs. Because, unlike COVID-19, HIV infection and disease [causée par le VIH] last a lifetime, so we have to treat people for a lifetimehe said.

Experts hope that the advances made to fight the COVID-19 pandemic can be used in the fight against HIV/AIDS, such as messenger RNA vaccine strategies and also monoclonal antibodies.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), HIV remains a major public health problem worldwide, with more than 36 million deaths to date.

The number of people living with HIV was estimated at the end of 2020 at nearly 38 million. Of this number, more than two-thirds (or 25 million) live in sub-Saharan Africa.

With information from Marie-Michèle Bourassa and Marie-Isabelle Rochon

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