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November 25, 2020
Regional HIV AIDS Connection's (RHAC) Board of Directors would like to announce the release of our organization’s position statement on safe supply.
RHAC is an evidence-informed agency committed to harm reduction practices that positively impact those living with, at risk for, or affected by HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. It is with this mission we strongly support the advancement of safe supply programs across London and all communities.
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how quickly our governments and our communities can come together in life-threatening situations. We ask that the same response be given to the ongoing opioid pandemic affecting those most vulnerable in our communities. Safe supply offers an evidence-based response that can reverse the increasing trend of opioid overdose deaths and other substance-related harms.
Given all these variables, the Board of Directors at Regional HIV/AIDS Connection strongly urge all levels of government to expand access to safe supply in Ontario demonstrating the courage to do what is right for those in need of support in our communities.
Read the full Position Statement on Safe Supply.
November 23, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 23, 2020
London, ON – The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) and Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC) have been notified that the Government of Ontario has approved the application for a permanent Consumption and Treatment Service (CTS) in London, at 446 York Street. The announcement includes funding to pay for renovations at the site and to undertake operations once the facility is ready to receive patients. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2021.
Provincial approval of the proposed site, confirmation of funding and the required federal exemption under section 56.1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act were the final steps in the process that began in 2018 to establish a permanent CTS and provide services where they are needed most. Once complete, the facility will allow clients to consume pre-obtained drugs under medical supervision and have access to additional services, including treatment and counselling programs.
“This is a landmark moment for London. These facilities have repeatedly been proven to not only save lives, they also improve lives by providing women and men with the necessary resources and supports to pursue recovery, independence, and fulfillment. This success simply would not have been possible without unprecedented coordination, collaboration, and cooperation across numerous local agencies. We must also acknowledge and give thanks to our federal and provincial partners for the important roles they’ve played in arriving at this critical juncture.” says Mayor Ed Holder.
“Opioid deaths were at epidemic levels before the pandemic, and have skyrocketed since. Today’s announcement is the result of so much hard work by so many people, from the thousands who participated in community consultations to the dozens and dozens who wrote letters of support. Thank you! All of your hard work has paid off, and will result in lives being saved.”.” says Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health with the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
“We commend Mayor Holder and Minister Elliot for their leadership in approving the permanent home for this life saving service. With this critical step finalized, we look forward to working with our health and social service partners to deliver enhanced wraparound services out of the permanent site,” says Scott Courtice, Executive Director, London Intercommunity Health Centre.
RHAC is the primary program operator of Carepoint. RHAC works collaboratively with London Intercommunity Health Center (LIHC) to support medical components of the service, with MLHU recognized as a vital founding partner and ongoing champion of this local public health initiative.
Since opening at its temporary site at 186 King Street, the skilled and caring staff of London’s temporary CTS have prevented more than 295 potential opioid-related deaths, supported close to 48,500 visits and facilitated hundreds and hundreds of referrals to a range of services including: addictions treatment and counselling, primary care, HIV/HCV testing and related clinical care, system navigation, detox services, housing and other vital social services.
“Today marks the culmination of a dream that has been in the works for months. Carepoint and RHAC will be able to grow and enhance the services that many people in our community have come to rely upon,” says Brian Lester, Executive Director at Regional HIV / AIDS Connection. “We have developed relationships with many of the people who live and struggle with the challenges of addiction every day. Today’s announcement brings added hope for a brighter tomorrow and the knowledge for so many people that their lives matter.”
Dan Flaherty, Communications Manager, Middlesex-London Health Unit, 519-663-5317 ext. 2469 or 519-617-0570 (cell.)
Brian Lester, Executive Director, Regional HIV/AIDS Connection
Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health, Middlesex-London Health Unit
September 14, 2020
The past number of months we have all adjusted to many changes in our community as we worked together to reduce the spread of COVID 19. To ensure the health and wellness of our community, RHAC has followed all COVID response recommendations of public health and government directives. At this stage I am pleased to advise that we have determined a plan to expand available services at 186 King Street.
RHAC continued to provide “essential” on-site services throughout these past 6 months and we also delivered additional important services utilizing remote/virtual approaches. Throughout this time we have remained committed to serving the needs of people living with, affected by or at risk for HIV and HCV or vulnerable to opioid poisoning (overdose).
Effective Monday, September 14th we are pleased to let you know that we will begin to increase available on site services at 186 King Street. These services will be accessible by appointment or by drop in.
Staff from HIV/HCV Support Services will be on site to provide a range of supports including:
- Case management supports, peer support, Country Cupboard (food bank) and more
- Various community partners will be scheduled at 186 King for on-site HIV/HCV testing and more.
All individuals accessing services on site will be subject to the following requirements:
- Standard COVID 19 screening questions
- Wear a mask while on site (a mask will be provided as necessary)
- Use of hand sanitizer upon entry to RHAC premises, and continuous regular use throughout their visit
- NOTE: All RHAC staff and on-site partners participate in daily COVID-19 screening prior to entering the workplace
The 186 King Street entrance has controlled access. Individuals who intend to access RHAC through the King Street entrance simply need to take the following steps:
- Use the vestibule buzzer # 4003. RHAC staff will let individuals into the building
- Remain in lobby until a RHAC staff member comes to greet you
- RHAC staff will accompany individuals to and from designated service areas
- RHAC staff will wear a mask (or additional PPE as deemed necessary) for all service interactions
RHAC remains committed to the safety for its staff, service users, and guests and we will continue to monitor the impact of our service expansion and adjust approaches as necessary.
Thanks and we look forward to providing these expanded services to members of our community.
July 22, 2020
Starting July 22, RHAC is hosting virtual events to bring our local community together for Pride 2020! Check out our line-up of event below to RSVP and join us LIVE on Zoom.
Wednesday, July 22 (6:30-8:00 PM) | In this workshop, facilitated by Olivia Smith Rodrigues, learn from local zine-makers about the queer history and activism behind 'zines' (self-published magazines) and how to make your very own!
Register for the event here.
Join the LIVE event via Zoom here on Wednesday, July 22 at 6:30 PM.
Sunday, July 26 (6:30-8:00 PM) | Moderated by Marie Fiedler, a panel of local activists will discuss the radical and revolutionary roots of Pride and the centering of BIPOC voices.
Register for the event here.
Join the LIVE event via Zoom here on Sunday, July 26 at 6:30 PM.
July 17, 2020
On June 3 2020 Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC) joined the rest of the HIV sector across Ontario by signing a statement of solidarity with Black Lives Matter. The statement includes a call for our own sector accountability to “examine the ways in which our own silence makes us complicit (to state violence against BIPOC) and commit to identifying and addressing occurrences of anti-Black racism within our sector and organizations.” RHAC is committed to ensuring our own accountability on these critically important issues. The history of HIV/AIDS social justice was driven by a lack of response from government, political leaders and others holding power within the system as gay men died of AIDS by the thousands. Again, we are fighting for the lives of marginalized community members.
RHAC will not be silent on this important issue and we stand with BLM and Pride London Festival (PLF) in support of their respectful request of London Police Service (LPS) to refrain from raising the Pride Flag in 2020. This does not need to be a divisive request, rather is presents an opportunity for LPS to engage in a dialogue with PLF and BLM to listen, with humility, as LPS works to address an explicit lack of progress with their own diversity/equity/inclusion plan.
RHAC values the important role of policing in our community! However the expanded scope of police responsibility has resulted in a default to utilization of police officers in matters better served by health, social service and other professionals. It is imperative to re-imagine police services in 2020. It’s equally important to assess and transform other long-standing systems and structures that perpetuate racism; including health, social services, justice and education. The lives of BIPOC literally depend on system transformation. We all have a role in moving toward a more civil society for all citizens.
June 3, 2020
Ontario’s HIV sector stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter to resist anti-Black racism and anti-Black violence.
Over the past week, we’ve witnessed unprecedented violence against Black communities in North America - much of it at the hands of the police and the state. The latest incidents of state-sanctioned violence against Black people, including Regis Korchinski-Paquet, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and countless others, remind us that to be Black in North America is to live with enduring and historic anti-Black racism that perpetuates violence, and systemic, economic, health and social inequities. In recognition of these realities, the Ontario AIDS Network and its members stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter movements in Ontario, across Canada, and around the world.
This is a critical moment for Ontario’s HIV sector to stand in solidarity with Black communities and speak out against anti-Black racism. It is vital that our network commit publicly to challenging white supremacy and to raising our collective voice against pervasive violence and systemic discrimination against Black people.
Our organizations and movement are built on foundational social justice principles that endure in our work to this day. Many of these same principles lay at the foundation of the Black Lives Matter movement. Our histories of collective HIV activism and the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots are prescient reminders of our deep roots of social action and resistance and of what change can come when we act together.
As we continue to use our collective tools and voices to dismantle HIV stigma and to challenge the status quo, we must begin to speak out louder on behalf of and with Black communities and organizations like Black Lives Matter. We must collectively acknowledge high and persistent HIV rates in Ontario’s African, Caribbean and Black communities and the ways that anti-Black racism and persistent health inequities contribute to this reality. Our collective voices must also rise in resistance to anti-Indigenous racism, transphobia, and countless other forms of oppression in our community.
While the state has indeed perpetrated violence against Black communities, we must acknowledge the role of our organizations in perpetuating this violence. As community-based organizations, we must examine the ways in which our own silence makes us complicit and commit to identifying and addressing occurrences of anti-Black racism within our sector and organizations.
The Ontario AIDS Network and its membership stand with those fighting for the fair and equitable treatment of Black communities at home and abroad. We the undersigned:
• Affirm this statement in solidarity with Black communities and with the Black Lives Matter movement.
• Commit ourselves to challenging anti-Black racism and violence through our actions.
• Commit to ensuring that Black communities who access HIV-related services in Ontario can do so without fear of discrimination.
Black Lives Matter.
Read the full statement here: https://oan.red/blm/
May 6, 2020
For more information visit https://whai.ca
April 25, 2020
Regional HIV/AIDS Connection is collecting handmade face masks to be distributed to those we serve through our Carepoint Consumption and Treatment Service. Many of our clients experience challenges, including housing instability, that make social distancing difficult. Face coverings are an additional measure that we are requesting on behalf of our clients to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
We need our community’s help. If you are able to sew or make a non-medical mask, please contact Fran at email@example.com or (519) 239-0802. We will accept donation drop-offs at John Gordon Home (596 Pall Mall Street, London, ON) between 8 AM—5 PM. Please contact Fran if pick-up is required.
It is recommended that donated masks:
- Fit snugly, but comfortably, without causing difficulty breathing
- Should include straps or ties to secure the mask over one’s ears
- Should include multiple layers of fabric
- Should be easy to machine wash and dry without damaging the integrity of the mask
For more information about how to make a face mask, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
April 24, 2020
The past few weeks have proven the importance of community. At RHAC, we know just how powerful our community can be. Thanks to your generous contributions, RHAC has carried on the tradition of A Taste for Life (ATFL) and raised more than $4000 so far!
One of our participating local restaurants has reached out to help keep the ATFL spirit going. On Monday, April 27th, 25% of all orders placed with Plant Matter Kitchen will be donated to RHAC in support of our client programs and services.
You can still support RHAC's clients in the spirit of A Taste for Life by making an online donation here.
Thank you for your continued support and making a valuable difference in our community!
April 24, 2020
Nominate a Volunteer: VKH Awards
Nominations are now open for RHAC's volunteer awards! Regional HIV/AIDS Connection’s Volunteer Awards highlight how volunteers have enhanced the delivery of our mission in the counties we serve. The awards celebrate volunteers who embody our value statement: “The courage to do what is right” and embrace our vision of Voice, Knowledge and Hope while exemplifying our guiding principles.
To nominate a volunteer:
Deadline is May 31.