World AIDS Day is held on December 1st each year. It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died.
There are more than 35 million people living with HIV around the world. In Canada, more than 75,000 people live with HIV, and a Canadian is diagnosed with the disease every three hours.
While research has led to treatment advances that mean a positive HIV diagnosis is no longer considered a death sentence, the burden of a diagnosis remains heavy. There’s stigma associated with the disease that takes a psychological toll on those living with HIV. In addition, HIV treatment is a lifelong commitment that requires taking medication every day, exactly as prescribed.
This year the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) led several national campaigns in order to raise awareness of HIV and the need for research into more treatment advances and prevention strategies.
The #RedToShow campaign encouraged Canadians to show their solidarity with people affected by HIV and AIDS. By using the hashtag #RedToShow in their social media posts, young Canadians were able to show their support while spreading awareness.
To further engage youth, CANFAR unveiled a three-story tall mural on World AIDs Day in Toronto. The mural was created by Toronto-based artist Ness Lee, commissioned by CANFAR with financial support from the Slaight Family Foundation. The space was donated by Allied Properties REIT.
The mural unveiling was part of CANFAR-hosted activities in cities across Canada for World AIDS Day. A number of Canadian landmarks such as the CN Tower, Peace Bridge, Niagara Falls, Calgary Tower, Vancouver’s City Hall shone their lights red in commemoration.
CANFAR also served as the national partner with Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation in Vancouver, Maison du Parc in Montreal, and Casey House in Toronto to host Voices of Hope, a community concert series occurring in the cities to mark World AIDS Day.
CANFAR also supported activities engaging students from coast-to-coast, who hosted red ribbon drives on their college and university campuses. Supporters, sponsors, community partners, and corporations (including Oxford Properties) also shared red ribbons with their colleagues and clients. Leading up to World AIDS Day, young supporter group 30 Under Thirty screened the award-winning film Fire in The Blood and held a discussion about access to HIV treatment.
While World AIDS Day 2016 has passed, the show of solidarity with people living with HIV shouldn’t end. CANFAR encourages Canadians to continue to show support by using #RedToShow. For more details, please visit CANFAR.com/red