Québec gov’t cuts all funding to World AIDS Day campaign
“Financial reasons” were cited by the Québec government’s Health and Social Services Ministry for the shocking $250,000 cut to their World AIDS Day funding. Their $866,000 media campaign to defend proposed tuition increases was not mentioned as a reason for the cut.
- L’Actuel sur rue: Getting tested just got easier
- Street smarts: L’Actuel opens storefront location
- At-home HIV test gets US FDA approval
On Thursday (July 26), as thousands of HIV/AIDS activists and researchers were still in Washington, DC, to “turn the tide together” at the 19th Annual Internation AIDS Conference, Québec’s Ministère de la santé et des services sociaux (MSSS) announced a shockingly ill-timed $250,000 cut to its 2012 World AIDS Day campaign. Cutting the entirety of the campaign’s budget for World AIDS Day public service announcements and ads was necessary “for financial reasons” MSSS spokeswoman Noémie Vanheuverzwijn told 2B.
“There will be methods put into place other than the campaign,” Vanheuverzwijn said via telephone from Québec City today. “It’s not [going to effect] the budget for STI prevention,” she clarified, adding that Ministry officials were advised in an internal e-mail last week that they would have to “reorient the means they use” for the World AIDS Day campaign this year, using zero-cost methods such as “press releases.”
Last year’s budget, which went to buy radio and web ads, as well as “graphic design, video shoots and stuff like that,” will no longer be available this year, Vanheuverzwijn added.
Medical specialist and community groups “in disbelief”
The announcement hit like a ton of bricks for prevention workers in the HIV/AIDS sector, starting with esteemed HIV specialist Réjean Thomas, founder of the Clinique l’Actuel. In Washington for the IAC, Dr. Thomas told La Presse that he was “in disbelief” at the news of the cut. “It gives the impression that STIs aren’t that big a deal, that AIDS isn’t a big deal, and that’s all sorted out, which of course it isn’t,” Thomas said.
Meanwhile, the Coalition des organismes communautaires québécois contre le sida (COCQ-sida) released a statement expressing their “great shock” (“grande supéfaction”) at the news of the budget slicing. “This news seems even more incongruous to us given that it comes at a time when scientific advances could actually wipe out HIV/AIDS, something many presenters at the International AIDS Conference have testified to,” concluding emphatically that “without political will, this goal will remain unattainable!”
The reason for the $250,000 World AIDS Day funding being targeted specifically was not explained by the Ministry, although it was clarified that the cuts “will not affect services like testing or funding to community groups.” Between February and May, the Québec government spent $860,000 for their ad campaign defending the Liberal government’s post-secondary tuition increases.