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February 1, 2021
February is Black History Month. Throughout the month, virtual events organized by the London Black History Coordinating Committee (LBHCC) will be celebrating the strength and resilience of Black communities in Southwestern Ontario. This year, all events (except February 19th's African Food Festival) will take place online using Zoom. You can register for online events at lbhcc.eventbrite.com and learn more at lbhcc.ca.
African, Caribbean and Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
On February 7, African, Caribbean and Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day helps to raise awareness and address stigma surrounding HIV, which continues to disproportionately impact African, Caribbean and Black communities.
"...has created inequities that leave African, Caribbean and Black Canadians more vulnerable to HIV infection and poor health outcomes. We have seen anti-Black racism in the disproportionate policing, criminalization and media reporting of African, Caribbean and Black people living with HIV for non-disclosure of HIV status. Furthermore, disproportionate rates of incarceration have a compounding effect on the risk of HIV and hepatitis C infection."
All of us must address inequities and systemic racism in our communities, not just one day or month out of the year, but every single day. To learn more, visit BlackHIVDay.ca.
December 23, 2020
Effective Dec 26 at 12:01 am until January 23rd 2021 the government of Ontario has announced that the province will be subject to a shutdown.
The province-wide shutdown will look similar to the shutdown back in March, with only essential businesses being allowed to remain open.
Like the shutdown in March, RHACs “essential services” will continue to operate and will include;
- Carepoint / Counterpoint Programs
- John Gordon Home Program
- HIV/HCV Support Services
- Various Administrative Services
This shutdown is considered a state of emergency and RHAC may deploy staff resources to meet coverage needs across program areas as necessary (with training and support).
Given this is the holiday season we recognize this development comes at a challenging time for most people. It is important to remind everyone that the best way to prevent COVID 19 transmission is through adherence to all public health recommendation/measures.
It is important to note that the government is also asking that “people do not leave home unless it is for an essential reason and only travel outside their own region if absolutely necessary”. Further the government has notified citizens that “Anyone who travels within Canada during the province-wide shutdown is being asked to self-isolate upon their return to Ontario.”
December 21, 2020
Regional HIV/AIDS Connection is currently seeking an Organizational Development Consultant who is also an independent contractor to act as the Program Administrator for the Ontario Organizational Development Program (OODP). To express interest in this exciting opportunity, please submit your proposal by no later than Monday January 11th, 2021 at 4:00 p.m.
For full details about this posting, click here or visit our Career Opportunities page.
For more information about OODP, visit www.oodp.ca.
December 5, 2020
We miss our volunteers. While RHAC continues to serve our community, something is missing: Our volunteers. Each and every one of you is incredibly important to our organization and our mission. You make a huge difference in our community, and your absence is certainly felt by our staff. While we miss all of you very much, your health and safety is our priority and we’re happy to know you are staying safe at home. You may not be here with us at the moment, but you are still a vital part of the RHAC family and our community. Thank you so much for all that you do!
We look forward to coming back together soon.
— Fran McKeown, Coordinator of Volunteer Services
In recognition of our wonderful volunteers, RHAC is proud to honour International Volunteer Day. Here's what our remarkable team of volunteers accomplished in 2019:
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 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/