For 30 years HIV/AIDS has been a local concern as well as an international epidemic. Since the early years, many women in our community have dedicated their professional lives to working with people living with, affected by and at risk for HIV. On International Women's Day, we are taking a moment to honour six women who have made significant contributions locally to the HIV movement.
Gloria Aykroyd MSW, RSW
Since 1991, Gloria Aykroyd has been the Program Coordinator and a social worker at Infectious Diseases Care Program (formerly known as HIV Care Program) in London. Gloria is co-chair of the Ontario HIV Outpatient Clinic Directors and Coordinators Network, and in 2008 completed a 3-year term as the coordinator representative on the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN) Board. Gloria has been an abstract reviewer for OHTN and formerly was the co-chair of OHTN’s Health Care Provider Network Advisory Committee.
Gloria has served on the Board of Directors for London Regional AIDS Hospice, more commonly known as John Gordon Home, and on the Diocese of Huron AIDS Education Committee. This committee formed Camp Wendake, a camp for persons living with HIV, their partners and loved ones at which Gloria was a cook for four years.
She is a member of numerous professional organizations and committees and is co-chair of the St. Joseph’s Hospital Ethics Education and Consultation Committee.
Gloria has worked for over 37 years as a social worker, including many years experience in child welfare and children's mental health. She also has a home-based private practice and wellness business.
Brenda Done has worked in a variety of capacities at St. Joseph’s Health Care London since June 1979, including charge nurse in both the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit and adult Intensive Care Unit. She also spent time on the intravenous team honing her blood-taking expertise! For the past 20 years, Brenda has been the clinic nurse for the Infectious Diseases Care Program (IDCP), an outpatient facility providing care for those infected and affected with HIV/AIDS.
Brenda has had the privilege of serving on the board of directors for several AIDS related organizations including: Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), Canadian Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (CANAC), John Gordon Home and AIDS Committee of London (now RHAC).
Shannon Dougherty has a degree in Psychology/Women’s Studies from Glendon College at York University in Toronto.
A feminist activist and ardent supporter of social justice causes for over 25 years, Shannon has often been heard to say she would be ready to chain herself to the Peace Tower in Ottawa to fight for the rights of marginalized people anytime the needs arises.
She began working in the social services sector in 1994, firstly with street-involved youth and then made her way to AIDS Committee of London as a Women’s Support Worker.
Shannon has been the Director of Client Services at Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (formerly ACOL) since 2003. She oversees the agency’s client programs and services, including those designed to serve HIV+ women and women at risk for HIV/AIDS.
Jane Paisley-Canning has been a public health nurse at Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU) since1998. She currently works in the Family Planning and Sexually Transmitted Infection clinics and is responsible for follow-up on reported cases of chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Jane has always enjoyed working one-on-one with clients and in 2001, after several years working in sexual health, she was fortunate to become involved in HIV follow-up, which she describes as being “very rewarding”.
She is one of two nurses responsible for newly diagnosed HIV case follow-up. They support clients associated with several facilities such as Elgin Middlesex Detention Center, My Sister’s Place, Women’s Community House, John Gordon Home, Children’s Aid Society, Center of Hope and Regional HIV/AIDS Connection. MLHU provides counselling, education and information, referral, assistance with partner notification, support and services for newly diagnosed clients and partners or family, as needed. They offer a variety of services including STI testing and treatment/referral, a sexual health promotion program and a needle exchange program.
Jane and her colleagues value collaboration with RHAC, Options Clinic and Infectious Disease Care Program through contact with counselling staff, referrals and the needle exchange program.
Margaret Pelz MD, FRCPC (Psychiatry)
Margaret Pelz joined the HIV Care Programme (now Infectious Diseases Care Program (IDCP)) at St. Joseph’s Health Care in 1999. There she was mentored by Dr. Mark Halman and learned through her colleagues, Gloria Aykroyd and Brenda Done at IDCP as well as Shannon Dougherty at Regional HIV/AIDS Connection.
Margaret has worked with staff at RHAC since joining IDCP and in 2009, she moved her office space into RHAC at 186 King Street where she works closely with the Client Services team to manage the health of HIV+ clients.
Margaret’s professional interests lie with HIV and mood disorders, especially depression and bipolar disorder, co-infection with hepatitis C and triple diagnoses of HIV, severe psychiatric illness and substance use.
Lyn Pitman’s involvement in HIV work began at AIDS Committee of London (ACOL) in 1989. In 1994, Lyn moved on to work at London Intercommunity Health Centre (LIHC), as the Coordinator of its Anonymous HIV Testing Clinic, known to many as “The Options Clinic”. She values the strong relationship built over the years with RHAC and continues to support the partnership between LIHC and RHAC by providing several anonymous HIV testing clinics each year in the six counties served by Regional HIV/AIDS Connection.
Outside of work, Lyn spends time with her partner Bob and their daughter Zai, who was ACOL’s first baby, welcomed and celebrated by both staff and clients 20 years ago!