New HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaign Launched on World AIDS Day 2008

(Ottawa—December 1, 2008) Representatives of the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) and the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation (NNAPF) launched a new campaign today designed to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS infections among Aboriginal people. Held to coincide with the 20th Anniversary of World AIDS Day, the event also served to lunch this year’s Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week.“It is an honour and a pleasure to launch this important new communications initiative aimed at increasing public awareness and dispelling the myths about HIV infections and AIDS, stated Kevin Barlow, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network. “With the new slogan, “Don’t let SID get you…,” we hope to raise the profile of our efforts to educate everyone on the risks Aboriginal people face with respect to HIV infections.”

Mr. Barlow, added, “SID represents the very real obstacles standing in our way of dealing with these issues more effectively: Stigma, in our context, means all the negative (and most often untrue) things people believe about HIV, AIDS and Aboriginal People Living with HIV/AIDS (APHA’s). Ignorance, in that many do not know HIV/AIDS is an invisible epidemic. Many still believe that only “two-spirit men” get HIV and AIDS. Many Aboriginal people do not know that they can be at risk and that they can protect themselves from getting HIV. Discrimination refers to the things people do to treat APHA’s unfairly as a result of HIV/AIDS stigma.”

“We want young Aboriginal people to know that they are three times as likely to become infected as non- Aboriginal people,” stated Garry Carbonnell, National Liaison and Policy Analyst Officer, of the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation. “We want people to know that, on average, one Aboriginal person gets infected with HIV every day; and that half of Aboriginal People Living with HIV/AIDS are female.”

The ‘SID campaign’ was developed because we should all be concerned. Why? One reason is that more accurate statistics are difficult to pin down for the following reasons because many who have HIV don’t get tested. In addition, not all provinces report ethnicity in their HIV/AIDS data so this leaves gaps in our knowledge.

“Many people still believe that only “gay men” get HIV/AIDS,” added Mr. Carbonnell. The fact is that Two-spirit (gay) males, the Aboriginal inmate population, and Aboriginal people in general are all at risk. Indeed, a full two-thirds of new infections are attributed to Injection Drug Use (IDU) and we’ve noticed a disturbing trend emerge—that of multiple infections within the same family. This happens when an infected person shares their needle with family members”.

The SID campaign will promote public awareness and education by letting people know how they increase the risk of getting infected with HIV—by having sex without using a condom; by sharing an injection drug needle; and by exchanging infected bodily fluids.

The campaign will also seek to dispel two of the most entrenched myths about HIV infection: that you get HIV through casual contact with an infected person, and that getting HIV means an automatic death sentence. One increases the risk of developing AIDS by not getting tested immediately if they think they’ve been exposed.

The campaign will also highlight ways that we can protect ourselves from getting HIV—and that protection starts with just a little basic information. Anyone thinking of having sex for the first time should get informed to be safe.

Given the high birth rate among Aboriginal peoples, the problem can only get worse, and most Aboriginal people don’t know they’re at risk. HIV can get anyone—from little babies to grandmothers and grandfathers. HIV/AIDS may therefore become the invisible epidemic in Aboriginal communities if nothing is done to stem the tide.

CAAN knows that, with a little information, SID can be beaten. We call on more people to become leaders on this issue—to use their strong voices to:

– Help generate awareness by informing their family and friends
– Speak publicly about the risks and how we can easily protect ourselves
– Get tested
– Encourage their family & friends to get tested
– Sign CAAN’s online petition calling for more awareness, support & treatment; and
– Encourage others to sign CAAN’s online petition


Media inquiries: Kevin Barlow, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (613) 567- 1817 ex 110, mobile : (613) 277-1817 or email kev…

Media inquiries or for more information: Kanatiio, Senior Communications Advisor, Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network: (778) 928-1590 or email kana…

Or visit

To view CAAN publications, please visit

December 1-5 is Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week

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