World AIDS Day is December 1st and it is not only a day for us to reflect back on how far we have come as a community in the fight against HIV and AIDS, but it is also a day for us here at HIV Edmonton to reaffirm our commitment to get to zero: zero new HIV infections, zero stigma and discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths.
If you think HIV is over, you’re wrong. If you think it doesn’t affect you, you’re wrong. Globally, HIV remains the number one killer of women of childbearing age, and was responsible for 1.5 million deaths in 2013. In Canada, there are over 71,000 people living with HIV, a quarter of whom do not know they are infected.
On World AIDS Day, however, there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’ – it is only one international community acknowledging and assuming our role in the fight against HIV and AIDS. In our journey to zero we often find ourselves stumbling over stigma and discrimination as a barrier to getting people tested, preventing them from accessing healthcare and treatment, and discouraging them from reaching out for social support.
Just as every social movement requires allies, let’s pledge our support to people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. To do this it doesn’t really require an outward or ostentatious display, although that would be nice, but let’s all decide to get educated.
By understanding exactly how HIV is transmitted, and conversely how it’s not, we can help to alleviate some of the judgments we carry about the virus and those who carry it. By talking about the virus and the social factors that impact how it is transmitted we can begin to understand the larger social context within which the virus percolates. Through these two avenues, education and awareness, we can slowly begin to whittle away at the stigma that makes defeating this virus so challenging.
At HIV Edmonton we are working hard at educating Edmontonians about HIV and increasing awareness around the virus that impacts so many of us. If you’d like to participate in our awareness building come visit us at Starbucks for our World AIDS Day Starbucks Barista event. We will be at the following locations from 9:00AM-3:00PM on Monday December 1, 2014:
- Starbucks Jasper Avenue and 109 Street
- Empire Building, Jasper Avenue and 102 Street
- Whyte Avenue, 82 Avenue and 104 Street
If you can’t make it out to one of our locations, please consider making a donation by clicking here. For the price of your daily latte you can provide meals for one of our clients for one week – it doesn’t sound like much but it makes a huge difference! Make sure to connect with us, and the international community, on Monday by using #WAD2014!
Thank you so much for your support! You are all Heroes for Zero!