Faces of HIV – Twenty Seven

By Shayne Woodsmith, Faces of Edmonton

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“This year, I’m President of the board of the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Wild Rose (The Court). Every year when we elect a new monarch in August at the ball, they select two charities who they want to focus their fundraising efforts on, so HIV Edmonton is often one of the charities that is selected because of the work they do in the community and also of course because of the affect that HIV and AIDS has had on the LGBTQ community.“ “HIV Edmonton is celebrating thirty years of doing amazing things in the community. The Court is celebrating its forty years this year, making it one the longest running LGBTQ organizations in Canada. HIV Edmonton and The Court has always had a very close relationship.” “The biggest challenge is apathy because HIV is now treatable. Especially youth often think that they don’t need condoms anymore since HIV doesn’t come with that death sentence … I think the benefit of The Court is that we can reach people that maybe HIV Edmonton doesn’t, like at the bar. And we’ve done a lot of work with youth groups over the years. Hopefully together we can make it clear that HIV hasn’t gone away and it is a life changer.” “Having worked in a bar, I know so many young kids who just won’t use condoms because they think it’s not that important. You’ve got a generation now that is a generation removed from the gay men of the eighties who were at funerals every week. I have a friend who just found out this week that he had contracted. It wasn’t the devastation that I would have expected. I had one HIV scare in the nineties and I was horrified. I couldn’t sleep for the ten days leading up to the results. But he wasn’t that freaked out and he didn’t think it was that big of a deal.”

Photography Credit: Shayne Woodsmith
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