Global AIDS Awareness week and national Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week, Nov. 24-Dec. 7, are reminds that the most vulnerable in our communities experience the highest rates of new HIV infections due to stigma and lack of support.
As treatment for AIDS becomes more effective, sometimes it is questioned why we need awareness weeks. The truth of the matter is despite great advances in AIDS medicine, people continue to experience health issues, premature death, stigma, and shame related to the disease.
Early detection provides the best possible outcomes, but in Canada 25 per cent of people living with HIV are unaware they even have the virus. Many don’t have access to proper medical care and struggle to maintain regular treatments necessary for survival. These are a few reasons we participate in these awareness weeks.
This year, AIDS Vancouver Island and the Vancouver Island Regional Library are hosting a variety of awareness-raising projects to help dispel myths and misconceptions about HIV. These include a storyboard art installation — on display at Courtenay and Comox libraries — and an anti-stigma project where people living with HIV share their stories.
Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day, which includes a pancake breakfast from 9:30-11 a.m. at the AVI Courtenay office at 355 Sixth St. Then a Testing, Health and Wellness Event will run from 1-3 p.m. It will feature flu immunizations, liver health information, HCV & STI testing, rapid HIV testing, harm reduction information and support services. Refreshments will be provided.