Toronto raises awareness at 25th annual World AIDS Day

by | Dec 6, 2013 | News

Ari Perlin-Bain
News Reporter

December 1 marked the 25th annual World AIDS Day in Toronto, an occasion filled with events honouring victims of HIV/AIDS, as well as educating people and increasing awareness about the disease.

Starting in 1988, organizations around the world began to annually commemorate those whose lives were taken by HIV/AIDS.

In Toronto, events were held across the city including the Community Carnation Memorial at 519 Church St., which was sponsored by the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation and other local agencies.

Executive Director Murray Jose described the event as one of the best ways to bring communities together to commemorate lives and educate as much as possible.

“We saw people from all communities in Toronto come together to share their thoughts about HIV/AIDS and honour victims of the disease,” said Jose.

Along with the memorial, a highly regarded World AIDS Day event centred on Africa consisted of volunteers in green shirts collecting donations and handing out condoms.

The Africa’s Children-Africa’s Future organization set up its annual fundraising effort at various TTC stations in downtown Toronto on Nov. 29 and 30.

AC-AF’s executive director Dave Christie said this year’s fundraising efforts saw better results than in previous years.

“We made $13,250 over both days and that’s actually an increase of $4,000 from the year before so we’re proud and happy to still be getting support from the general public,” said Christie.

Though World AIDS Day did see its fair share of events throughout the city, these days come during a period when the disease seems to have less prominence among today’s youth.

Christie said there are also many misconceptions still out there about the disease, that could affect the youth’s take on it, which is why education is so important.

“When hearing individuals with HIV/AIDS are treated in their community like they’re contagious, (it) shows people still think it’s like the 90’s where if you touch (sufferers), you’re going to get HIV, too, and that’s not the case,” said Christie.

“This is why more education and awareness is necessary.”

Jessica Morrisson, a second-year creative photography student at Humber, said due to more evident sexually transmitted infections and less emphasis on HIV/AIDS, youth are generally forgetting they can contract the disease.

“I think it’s definitely gone off the radar for today’s youth,” said Morrisson.

“Being educated about HIV/AIDS is important because while symptoms of it can be curbed, the entirety of it is still out there.”

For more information on World AIDS Day, visit the websites for Africa’s Children-Africa’s Future as well as other organizations dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS.