Nov. 25, 2014
By Kim Zarzour
Local leaders, community groups and friends and families are meeting in Richmond Hill Monday for a candlelight vigil to mark World AIDS Day.
The AIDS Committee of York Region organized the event to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and celebrate the opening of the new office location of the committee and My House Rainbow Resources of York Region.
It’s estimated more than 400 people are living with HIV in York Region. The AIDS committee has a current case load of 100 people who are infected with the chronic illness or their caregivers, executive director Vibhuti Mehra said.
Mehra said the community-based organization provides support and advocates for access to dignified care for those living with and impacted by HIV/AIDS, including case management, counselling, rides for medical care, along with life skills development and a survivors support group.
The committee, the only local non-profit organization providing services for those in York Region living with or impacted by AIDS, recently consolidated two locations - Newmarket and Richmond Hill - to one central office located at 10909 Yonge St., unit 203, across from the Bernard bus station at Yonge just north of Elgin Mills.
“It’s a space where people can feel like they have a sense of community and can learn skills so they can give back and be contributing members of the community,” Mehra said.
The committee also offers outreach, education, condom distribution and on-site clinics for HIV testing.
Often those with HIV are also struggling with issues such as housing, immigration, unemployment and violence against women, she said, which is why the committee educates other service groups on compassionate care and combating the stigma of HIV/AIDS.
Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day, meant to raise awareness, encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care, and acknowledge the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS across the globe.
Rainbow Cinema Elgin Mills has offered a private room for the event Monday evening. Mehra said the committee open house will be held between 6 and 8 p.m., followed by a candlelight vigil from 8:15 to 8:30 p.m. “to provide a moment of silence for those who have passed on and those who are struggling with HIV/AIDS”. For more information, visit www.acyr.org