Helping the most vulnerable when they need help the most : HIV/Aids
In my 2011-2012 Annual Report Straight Forward I broached the subject of the plight of Francophones living with HIV/Aids, followed by a blog post commemorating World Day Against Aids in 2012, and an update on the subject in my 2012-2013 Annual Report A New Approach, which spoke of some positive signs taking place in this highly specialised and very important area of health care.
People living with HIV or Aids are literally fighting for their lives, and they have to both share and understand complex and sensitive information, all while not feeling well. They have to be able to describe physical and mental conditions, symptoms and side effects in precise terms. They have to receive and understand critical advice regarding lifestyle, the legal and health consequences of certain practices, how to obtain long-term and emergency assistance, and how to take medication. This is no easy feat to accomplish even in one’s mother tongue, but the intellectual gymnastics required by Francophones living with HIV/Aids makes their unenviable position even more challenging.
Francophones dealing with the life-limiting illness that is HIV/AIDS are often faced with choosing between a facility that specializes in HIV/AIDS (in English), and a facility that caters to the Francophone public at large, thereby losing all the cultural sensitivities that accompany this disease.
“Anglophones living with the same life-limiting illness don’t have this awkward and difficult choice to make.”
The Commissioner’s Office continues to receive complaints from this vulnerable community, who are a minority within a minority. Because this is an area that is so sensitive and touches on several vulnerable populations (LGBT, immigrants, women, youth, the elderly, those living with mental health issues and drug addictions), the Commissioner’s Office will be looking at picking up where the 2011–2012 annual report ended, looking for a strategy from the Ministry that will fully integrate French-language services for all those living with HIV/AIDS throughout their medical journey.
To get an in-depth view of the current situation of Francophones living with HIV/AIDS, the Commissioner will look into launching a thorough province-wide investigation with a view to making carefully crafted, well-researched recommendations to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that will improve the quality life for Francophone HIV/AIDS patients from all walks of life.