World AIDS Day is a day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic which is caused by the spread of HIV infection. It has been observed all over the world for the past 26 years, falling on the first of December.
In Cranbrook, World AIDS Day ceremonies will be held at Spirit Square in Rotary Park.
Gary Dalton, Care Team director from ANKORS, said World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people to acknowledge those who have passed away because of HIV and AIDS, as well as those living with HIV and AIDS.
“And it’s an opportunity to see how the face of AIDS is changing,” Dalton said.
ANKORS (AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society) organizes the event. Refreshment will be provided by Street Angels after the ceremony.
“At 7 p.m. we’re going to have a memorial — a candlelight ceremony — at Spirit Square in Rotary Park,” he said.
Dalton said there will be other things going on earlier in the day for World AIDS Day as well.
In the morning there will be an educational piece happening at the college in the morning.
“Among the things that we’re trying to underline this year is how fantastic the medication is now,” he said. “It doesn’t cure HIV, but it completely reduces the capacity to pass HIV on. It’s called treatment as prevention, and it’s more than 95 per cent effective against transmission of HIV for people who are on the medication.”
He noted the one stipulation is that people need to get tested to know what their HIV status is.
Dalton said that while the anti-retroviral therapy drugs have been around since 1996, it’s been difficult to get support that’s need to broadcast the information to the public. The drugs stop HIV from manufacturing copies of itself.
At 3:30 in the afternoon Monday there will be Health Outreach Nurse at Street Angels at 1324 – 2nd Street North. The nurse can do testing and talk about not just about HIV, but also about Hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted infections. The nurse will be there from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
He said the Health Outreach Nurse is a more recent position and a new approach to dealing with testing and discussion around a lot of these issues.
Dalton also attended an AIDS conference in Vancouver.
“We’re trying to lose the acronym AIDS, because it doesn’t hold true anymore,” he said. “There are people that are outliving their doctor’s practices.”
One recent development is that 20 per cent of new HIV cases are among seniors over 55.
“Drugs like Viagra are increasing people’s sexual behaviour much longer and older people don’t think they need protection because they’re not going to get pregnant,” he said.
The ANKORS office in Cranbrook is located at 46 – 17th Avenue South. The number is 250-426-3383.
“If anybody has some questions they’d like to ask us, we’d love to answer them,” Dalton said.