Scientists excited for ‘new chapter’ in AIDS pandemic

On today’s date in 1996, more than 15,000 participants at the XI International AIDS Conference were told about major gains in the treatment of the disease.

On May 8, 1996 – about two months before the XI International AIDS Conference took place in Vancouver, B.C. – Canada Post issued a 45-cent multi-coloured stamp (Scott #1603) as part of its AIDS Awareness issue. Dubbed “One World, One Hope”, the stamp was printed by Ashton-Potter on Coated Papers Limited paper. It has general tagging along each side.

Blair Coldwell Henshaw, of Nova Scotia, supported the stamp’s creation. Henshaw was a lifelong philatelist, collecting HIV and AIDS stamps after the world’s first AIDS stamp was released in 1988. In 1992, seven years after being diagnosed HIV positive, Henshaw began lobbying Canada Post and the federal government to produce a Canadian postage stamp featuring HIV/AIDS. His goal was to raise awareness of the disease in Canada and abroad. His efforts were successful with the issuance of SC #1603, which was based on an image by Vancouver artist Joe Average.

In the July 13, 1996 issue of The Independent, Liz Hunt reported scientists at the conference were heralding a new chapter in the history of the AIDS pandemic. Scientists were hoping the advent of a potent drug cocktail would drastically reduce the level of HIV in the blood or even stop the virus from replicating. Studies and trials suggested viral load predicted the progression of the disease, but when using antiretroviral therapy, the viral load was lowered, which resulted in improved survival of HIV-infected persons.

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