A red ribbon memorial candle display is placed at the legislature on Dec. 1 marking the 30th anniversary of World Aids Day and the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in Canada. (Keri Coles/News staff)

A red ribbon memorial candle display is placed at the legislature on Dec. 1 marking the 30th anniversary of World Aids Day and the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in Canada. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Circle of support fights stigma on World Aids Day

AIDS Vancouver Island urges testing with “Know your status” campaign

In the waning light of a crisp fall evening, friends and strangers stood in a circle holding hands – singing, talking and honouring a moment of silence for loved ones currently living with or lost to AIDS.

Beside them on the steps of the legislature, candles flickered in a red ribbon memorial display as they marked the 30th anniversary of World Aids Day and the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in Canada.

RELATED: 30th annual World AIDS Day ceremonies happening in Victoria

ALSO READ: AIDS Vancouver Island tackles need for prevention resources

As the group went around the circle sharing stories about how AIDS has touched their lives and those of loved ones, stigma was a heavy theme throughout.

Accounts were shared of how the stigma had killed, long before the disease had a chance to.

Through the “Know your status” campaign, AIDS Vancouver Island is urging people to get tested and encouraging others to speak openly about HIV/AIDS to avoid stigma and shame.

Research shows that in Canada 25 per cent of people living with HIV are unaware that they have the virus because they’ve never been tested.

Here in this province, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has implemented an innovative pilot program that lets patients sign up and get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections online.

For more information about this program go to www.getcheckedonline.com.


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

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Friends and strangers stood in a circle holding hands on the 30th anniversary of World Aids Day – singing, talking and honouring a moment of silence for loved ones currently living with or lost to AIDS. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Friends and strangers stood in a circle holding hands on the 30th anniversary of World Aids Day – singing, talking and honouring a moment of silence for loved ones currently living with or lost to AIDS. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Children approach a red ribbon memorial candle display placed at the legislature on Dec. 1 marking the 30th anniversary of World Aids Day and the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in Canada. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Children approach a red ribbon memorial candle display placed at the legislature on Dec. 1 marking the 30th anniversary of World Aids Day and the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in Canada. (Keri Coles/News staff)

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