Nov. 24-30 is National AIDS Awareness Week, culminating on Dec. 1 with World AIDS Day.
Once again, this year’s theme is “Stop AIDS, Keep the Promise.”
The Northwestern Health Unit is working in partnership with the Canadian Public Health Association to launch the national campaign designed to prevent this disease and eliminate the stigma associated with HIV.
The impact of the AIDS epidemic across the world continues to increase, along with political pressure on governments to take action. Sadly, many people believe HIV/AIDS is an illness specific to Third World countries, or larger towns, or people of a particular sexual orientation.
Fear of stigma and discrimination may prevent people, especially those in small communities, from acknowledging their HIV status, receiving testing and medication to slow the progress of the infection, and taking precautions to reduce the spread to others.
“In order to respond effectively to HIV-related stigma and discrimination, we need to implement a range of strategies that tackle prejudice and protect people’s rights,” said Nancy Cameron, acting medical officer of health for the Northwestern Health Unit.
The truth is, AIDS can be found in geographic areas all across Canada, including Northwestern Ontario, because it is not who you are or where you live that puts you at risk for HIV, it is what you do.
Untested, those with HIV/AIDS may not know they can infect their spouse, partner, friend, child—and even their baby if they become pregnant.
Each of us has something to contribute, such as:
•standing up against stigma and discrimination;
•educating yourself and others about HIV prevention;
•knowing your HIV status; and
•learning about the commitments our leaders have made.
The need for AIDS awareness remains as important as ever and by leading together, we have the potential to stop HIV.
Our voices can make a difference.