Getting to zero

World AIDS Day campaign is about 'getting to zero'

This year’s 2011 World AIDS Day campaign is about “getting to zero” — zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths.

The campaign is set to run until 2015.

AIDS Vancouver Island (AVI), a local non-profit participating in World AIDS Day activities, says that the campaign encourages us to remember that the struggle against HIV/AIDS continues and that much work is needed to prevent the spread of HIV, to remove stigma, and to support those living with this disease.

According to UNAIDS’ World AIDS Day Report, at the end of 2010, an estimated 34 million people were living with HIV worldwide — up 17 per cent from 2001. This reflects the continued large number of new HIV infections and a significant expansion of access to antiretroviral therapy, which has helped reduce AIDS-related deaths, especially in more recent years.

The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that at the end of 2008 there were 65,000 (54,000 to 76,000) Canadians living with HIV.

It is estimated that 26 per cent of these are unaware of their HIV status. In 2009, there were 38 new cases of HIV diagnosed on Vancouver Island, out of a total of 339 in B.C.

Services offered by AIDS Vancouver Island in the Comox Valley include advocacy and support for those affected by HIV, as well as education activities to prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.

“We are hosting an open house on World AIDS Day and invite the community to come down to pick up a red ribbon and learn more about our services,” said Sarah Sullivan, AVI Manager in Courtenay and Campbell River.

The open house this Thursday will be at AVI’s Courtenay office at 355 Sixth St. in Courtenay from 1 to 3 p.m. AVI will also set up information displays at several public locations in the community.

For more information about AVI, visit www.avi.org or call 250-338-7400.

— Aids Vancouver Island