Red Scarf Campaign Launches In Bracebridge To Raise Awareness For HIV/AIDS

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Red Scarf campaign in recognition of World AIDS Day and HIV/AIDS Awareness Week
Photo by Cheryl Broadbent

Locals tied red scarves around downtown Bracebridge today in an effort to raise awareness for and reduce the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS Red Scarf Campaign
Photo by Cheryl Broadbent

Representatives from the Muskoka Grandmothers to Grandmothers, the Gilbert Centre and Muskoka Pride came together to launch the campaign in recognition of World AIDS Day and HIV/AIDS Awareness Week from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1. The Bracebridge Falls will also be lit up red tonight in recognition of World AIDS Day. Muskoka Pride board member and secretary Shawn Forth said it’s essential to recognize the importance of these annual campaigns.

In Canada, we have 63,000 people living with HIV/AIDS and many millions around the world,” Forth said. “It’s recognizing that 40 years after the virus was first identified, there still is no cure, but we’re at a point now where medication allows individuals to live long fulfilling lives, yet they still have to live with the stigma attached to having HIV or AIDS.”

The Muskoka chapter of Grandmothers to Grandmothers came together in 2009 in support of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which works to combat AIDS and homophobia in Sub-Saharan Africa. Their name references the African grandmothers caring for millions of children orphaned by AIDS and the local chapter has raised over $100,000 for the cause since the group’s founding. 

The Gilbert Centre provides social services and support for the LGBTQ+ community as well as people living with and affected by HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Forth said Muskoka Pride has supported the Muskoka Grandmothers to Grandmothers and the Gilbert Centre for many years with the red scarf initiative.

Photo by Cheryl Broadbent

Community volunteers knitted and crocheted the scarves over the past year and members of the public are invited to help themselves to one of the scarves, he said. He also encourages residents to share information about HIV/AIDS to help raise awareness across the region.

“Science is at the point where U equals U, [meaning] undetectable equals untransmittable,” Forth said. “Someone who is living with HIV or AIDS and is undetectable cannot transmit it to their partner, so today we’re tying red scarves around lamp posts and trees in downtown Bracebridge because the scarf symbolizes the red AIDS ribbon to help bring awareness and to help to reduce the stigma.”

For more information on the red scarf campaign, click here.

With files from Cheryl Broadbent

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