Dec 5 Edmonton, AB
Edmonton Room, Edmonton Public Library
Global Lessons ~ Local Practices: Indigenous and Aboriginal people and HIV and AIDS
For more information on these events visit:
Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week, which is scheduled every year from December 1 to December 5 beginning on World AIDS Day – December 1, is an opportunity to:
- Increase awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS.
- Establish ongoing prevention and education programs in Aboriginal communities.
- Address common attitudes that may interfere with prevention, care and treatment activities.
- Reduce HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.
This activity guide is intended as a resource to help you and your community think about what HIV/AIDS awareness activities you might plan for Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week as well as throughout the year.
We cannot pretend HIV doesn’t exist in our communities – it does!
Every First Nation, Inuit and Métis community is affected by HIV/AIDS. Knowledge and awareness about HIV/AIDS is one way to address and respond to the fear, shame and stigma that contributes to each new infection. It is important to raise awareness about this preventable disease and for all Aboriginal people to have the knowledge to make a difference and be leaders in their own communities.
Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week Activities – Just a Beginning
Every year, between December 1 and December 5, you have an opportunity to begin a dialogue about HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) among people in your community – especially among the young men and women who may be at greatest risk of infection.
It is an ideal time to begin to raise knowledge about HIV – what the virus is, how it is spread, the importance of knowing how to prevent infection and regular testing, and how the virus is best treated. Or perhaps it is an ideal time for your community to remember your friends, family and community members who may have lost their brave struggle against HIV and died as a result of (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) or AIDS-related illnesses.
Or perhaps it is an ideal time to sit with community Elders and leaders to begin the necessary dialogue about what is needed to educate your community’s young people or how best to reduce HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination, or how to best support and care for Aboriginal People Living with HIV/AIDS (APHA) from your community.
Monday, Dec. 1 was World AIDS Day, also marking the start of Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week Dec. 1 – 5. According to a press release, Prairie North Health Region is taking this opportunity to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS, and to help reduce the stigma associated with the disease. PNHR HIV Strategy Co-ordinator Merle Ramshaw says World AIDS Day and Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week are the perfect times for all people – including citizens of Prairie North – to join in the fight against HIV/AIDS. “You can do that by finding out what HIV is and how it's transmitted,” states Ramshaw. “Share that knowledge with your family and friends, including youth. Set an example of understanding and respect toward all people, including those with HIV/AIDS. You will help reduce the stigma, discrimination and maltreatment of people in our communities and around the world with HIV/AIDS.”Ramshaw explains people living with HIV continue to be pushed and some ultimately retreat to the edges of society. “This fuels transmission of HIV/AIDS as people with the illness may not receive the care, support, understanding and treatment they need.” Saskatchewan's HIV Provincial Leadership Team recommends annual testing for HIV/AIDS for individuals who are sexually active and between 13-70 years of age. “Get an HIV test and know your status,” says Ramshaw. “Tests are available at your doctor's office or at a PNHR sexual health clinic.” Events and activities are planned throughout Prairie North Health Region to mark World AIDS Day and Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week. Across the region, displays will be set up at primary health care sites and other locations, with baskets of red AIDS awareness/support ribbons, information pamphlets, and posters. Some locations will have a small supply of condoms as a reminder of one method of preventing the spread of HIV. In the Battlefords on Dec. 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Battlefords Family Health Centre will be holding an event to commemorate World AIDS Day. Nicci, a woman living with HIV, will be sharing her experience with the disease. BFHC is located at 1192 - 101 St., North Battleford. Contact BFHC HIV Project Co-ordinator Kent Lindgren or BFHC HIV Outreach Worker Amanda Maunula at 306-937-6840.
In Lloydminster during Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week, daily events will occur at the Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre, 4602-49 Ave. All events are free and open to the public:
• Monday, Dec. 1: smudging at 10 a.m., followed by an honour walk; then noon lunch and an informational presentation about HIV at 1 p.m. by Carri Girodat, PNHR outreach worker.
• Tuesday, Dec. 2: First Nation Elder speaking on traditional relationships 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
• Wednesday, Dec. 3: free community soup and bannock at noon, served by Mayor Rob Saunders and councillors Lachlan Cummine, Larry Sauer and Linnea Goodhand.
• Thursday, Dec. 4: presentations by guest speaker Marji, a First Nation individual living with HIV, and Carri Girodat, PNHR outreach worker, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
• Friday, Dec. 5: free community pancake breakfast 9:30 – 11 a.m.
A candlelight vigil (with battery-operated candles) will begin at the LNFC on Dec. 1, and remain on until the afternoon of Dec. 5. You can join in by lighting smaller battery-operated candles for friends and loved ones.
Ramshaw notes many people continue to believe HIV/AIDS is something that doesn't affect them, and they pay little attention to it. She urges everyone to consider the numbers:
( Saskatchewan currently has the highest rates of new HIV cases in Canada, with 17 per 100,000 new cases (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2012).
( One in four people are unaware that they have HIV.
( About 73,000 people in Canada are living with HIV.
( Seventy-five million people have been infected with HIV in the world (WHO, 2014).
( About 35.3 million people in the world live with HIV, close to the entire number of people living in Canada (WHO, 2014).
( In 2012, 1.6 million people died from HIV (WHO, 2014).