Ron Proudfoot, volunteer at AIDS Vancouver Island, shows off the many red scarves available at the Courtenay office. Photo submitted

Ron Proudfoot, volunteer at AIDS Vancouver Island, shows off the many red scarves available at the Courtenay office. Photo submitted

Red Scarf Campaign used as AIDS awareness initiative

December 1, 2018, will be the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day.

This year’s theme is ‘Know your status.’

2018 also marks the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in Canada.

Research proves that early detection is the key to successful treatment, but in Canada 25 per cent of the people living with HIV are unaware they have the virus. In addition, many people who have the virus don’t have access to proper medical care and struggle to maintain the regular treatments necessary for survival. In Canada, Aboriginal people remain disproportionately affected by HIV. It is estimated that Aboriginal people make up 12.2 per cent of new HIV infections and 8.9 per cent of those living with HIV in Canada.

This year, as part of Global AIDS Awareness Week and national Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week, AIDS Vancouver Island is participating in the Red Scarf Campaign. Red Scarf is a movement bringing community together to raise awareness and knowledge about the positive advances in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. Red Scarf stands against stigma to improve the lives of those living with, affected by and at risk for HIV/AIDS in the community. Red scarves will be hung in public spaces in downtown Courtenay for people to observe and take home.

Like the red ribbon, every red scarf is a symbol of awareness and support.

Anyone can join the movement by:

• Making/wearing a red scarf

• Take a selfie of themselves wearing a red scarf and posting it to AVI Twitter/Facebook

• Picking up a scarf tied to various objects throughout the city

• Donating in direct support of clients of AIDS Vancouver Island

• Getting yourself tested.

AVI Courtenay will be hosting a testing event on Dec. 3 from 9:30 a.m. – noon at 355 Sixth St. The event will offer free onsite HIV testing, education and treatment information. There will be snacks, games and prizes.