Thursday, June 18, 2009

Canadian Public Health Association 2009 Conference, Winnipeg, Manitoba, June 6 – 10, 2009

I attended the Canadian Public Health Association 2009 Conference [ a fifteen minute walk from the Manitoba Legislature] motivated by my belief that HIV /AIDS information and issues, including the related Social Determinants of Health [ such as housing, poverty, addiction and mental illness, all of which feature greatly in other diseases such as Hepatitis C, tuberculosis, diabetes and N1H1 to mention a few] would benefit from a broader discussion. Another reason I had was to find out what the range of the discussion on HIV is in the broader community.

In brief, there is little awareness or discussion. There were 260 plenaries and presentations / discussions at this large conference. Of these, only two had “HIV” in the title. On a related note, which Hepatitis C also related to the ‘poverty’ determinants of health, garnered little more attention.

I raised questions and ethics issues in one plenary and in all the presentations that I attended. I was heard and hope that the ideas stick in the brains of a few listeners.

To be fair, it is a public health conference and issues affecting the public at large such as: child health and development, chronic disease , First Nations, health inequalities and inequities, infectious disease, mental health and illness; dominated especially H1N1 which was in the news the week of the conference due to a large outbreak on several First Nations reserves in Northern Manitoba. In addition issues like urban/rural service disparities and integration between municipal, provincial and federal health services and jurisdictions. However, in my opinion, several topic areas begged fro the inclusion of HIV such as chronic disease, First Nations, health inequalities and inequities, infectious disease, and mental health and illness. Even in the presentations that focused on First Nations, HIV was not significantly present.

HIV – the disease of the marginalized, the modern day lepers, is marginalized. What is not acknowledged or seen, must not exist

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