A four-year campaign to reduce the number of HIV/AIDS victims in Canada and around the world kicks off Thursday (Dec. 1), World AIDS Day.
The goal of the campaign according to organizers is “getting to zero” – zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.
The campaign is set to run until 2015.
“Getting to zero is about increasing access to HIV treatment and support,” said James Boxshall, acting executive director of AIDS Vancouver Island. “In order to eliminate AIDS-related deaths and to decrease the transmission of HIV, expanded access to services is needed both locally and globally.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that at the end of 2008 there were 65,000 Canadians living with HIV. It is estimated that 26 per cent of these are unaware of their HIV status. In 2009, there were 38 new cases of HIV diagnosed on Vancouver Island, out of a total of 339 in the province of B.C.
Boxshall added that the campaign encourages people to remember that the struggle against HIV/AIDS continues and that much work is needed to prevent the spread of the disease and remove the stigma attached to it.
Aids Vancouver Island is hosting an open house Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The office is at 201-55 Victoria Rd. For more information on World AIDS Day or AVI, please visit www.avi.org. or call 250-753-2437.