Afro-Canadian Positive Network of B.C.
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Even with access to care, I saw the Afro-Canadian positive community around me failing to receive the care they need. Refugees face many challenges -- being a newcomer, being alone, dealing with trauma. In addition, the shame of having HIV was profound; merely walking into an HIV clinic caused widespread gossip and shaming within the community.
The vulnerability of Black Canadians to HIV is highly complex and requires a better focus on prevention, education, harm reduction and testing. Our biggest challenge is the high and especially persistent levels of HIV stigma and homophobia in our communities. These attitudes severely limit our success in engaging Canada's Black communities in a dialogue about HIV, and get in the way of our HIV prevention, testing and treatment efforts. This is what our awareness day is all about. We want to both celebrate our successes and make an objective assessment of where our community is at in this fight to engage people in HIV prevention.
World AIDS Day is time for both activism and reflection. As nurses, we know the benefit that modern health care has provided to people living with HIV, but we must ensure as technology advances, that we don't lose sight that a person lives with the virus, not the other way around.