ANKORS (AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society) and a number of the public are participating in the group’s 20th annual AIDS Walk for Life today.
A drumming circle and song preceded the walk down Baker street to Lakeside Park.
The event is to help raise awareness and prevent stigma of HIV/AIDS. Walk organizer Erynn Davis said the walk as a fundraiser has been “ super successful“ as they have surpassed their goal of $5000.
“The funds raised here go to people living here with HIV/AIDS to help pay for treatment and transportation for treatment in Vancouver, or for food and other services they may need,” said Davis.
Once at Lakeside Park, Davis will speak on behalf of local MLA Michelle Mungall and Cheryl Owden will speak on behalf of Alex Atamanenko. Marilyn James from the local Sinixt Nation will also speak before the barbecue in the Rotary shelter.
Paul, from Father Paul and the Fireside Prophets, and James Lamb will be performing at the event.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) weakens the immune system, the body’s built-in defense system to fight against disease and illness. However, although it weakens the body’s immune system, people can have HIV for years without feeling symptoms and not knowing they have it. Because of this, it’s important to be regularly tested every three months, or whenever HIV could have passed has happened.
Who can have HIV?
Anyone can be infected with HIV, no matter their age, gender, race, ethnic origin or sexuality. As of 2011 approximately 71,300 Canadians were living with HIV, which represents an increase of 7,300 people (11 per cent) since 2008.
HIV can only be transmitted from contact with other’s intimate bodily fluids or blood; it cannot be passed through healthy, unbroken skin, or any form of casual contact such as saliva, urine, tears or sweat.
Having accurate information and a clear understanding is a starting point to improving living conditions for members of the community that are living with HIV. Stigma hurts, so people are encouraged to adjust language and attitudes.
There is no cure for HIV, however there are treatments that can help someone that is HIV positive to live a long and otherwise healthy life. However it is not just treatment; support and information need to be given which is something ANKORS provides.