Wednesday, July 9, 2008

AIDS aren't just in Africa

As the AIDS Committee of Guelph looked back on it's 20 years of service to Guelph and Wellington County at the annual barbeque, I am reminded of the lack of education and knowledge many young (and old) people have about AIDS in Canada.

Growing up, I never knew very much about AIDS. I knew that it was widespread throughout Africa, but I never seemed to hear anything about Canada and other developed countries. It seems that the life expectancy has to drop to around 40, like it is in some areas of Africa, in order to get a lot of attention.

When I first started volunteering with the AIDS Committee, I didn't realize how much I would learn from the education workshops. I was astounded at the amount of people in Canada living with HIV but not knowing it. In 2006, the Public Health Agency of Canada estimated that of the 58,000 people infected with HIV in Canada, about a quarter of them were unaware of their HIV status. With free, anonymous testing sites widespread throughout Canada, I can only assume that lack of education about these sites and, of course fear, are standing in the way of Canadians getting tested.

The amount of people becoming infected in Canada is increasing every year. I can't help but question why we have not been thoroughly educated on such a deadly disease.

Canadians need to learn the facts about HIV, STI's and Hepatitis as it continues to affect more and more people. If schools aren't teaching about it, or aren't teaching enough about it, we need to take it upon ourselves to be informed. We need to look past the stigma and myths associated with HIV, protect ourselves, teach others and do something to help.

Useful tips, facts and other information on HIV/ AIDS in Canada is available all over the internet.
Learn more now.

Monday, June 23, 2008

AIDS Committee of Guelph Summer Newsletter

The ACG summer 2008 newsletter is now available. It features information on the membership campaign, the redesigned membership form, the new (and disappointing) anit-drug policy in Canada and more.

The newsletter also has information about Insite, based in Vancouver, which is a supervised injection site. Throughout the years it has been running, it has proven to reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. The success of the safe injection site shows that harm reduction should be a necessary program in all of Canada's HIV/ AIDS policies.

Read the newsletter to learn more about the ACG and Canada's current news on the deadly disease.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Good environmental news for Canada?

As most people know, Canada and many other developed countries have failed miserably at following the Kyoto Protocol and other environmental plans to cut down carbon emissions. With the chance of using more renewable resources for energy and new technology that helps limit our carbon footprint, you would think that Canada, would have already adopted a strong environmental plan.

I continue reading people's comments on sites such as CBC about their frustration with Canada's government. The government has continued to use the excuse of politics getting in the way of creating a plan to reduce our environmental impact. Apparently it would be too economically damaging to cut our carbon emissions drastically.

In my opinion, the environmental damage will (soon) one day be so destructive that politics or not, we're going to have to take responsibility. I'm not an economist, but when you think logically, wouldn't there be a worse impact on Canada's economic system if we wait for that day?

Every news site I visited today has an article about Liberal Leader Stephan Dion's new carbon tax plan. It seems that our Liberals are taking advantage of the fact that our Conservative government isn't doing anything about the impact Canada is having on the environment.

There has already been attacks by other parties about the plan. Even if the plan isn't perfect yet, how can anyone attack it when we aren't following any plan right now? I think that with an election coming in a year and a bit, other parties might be surprised at how many people will vote based on these types of plans.

Environmental responsibility is increasingly becoming a much needed 'trend,' with more and more news coverage on what other cities or countries are doing to help the environment and limit their carbon footprint. The past two nights I've seen TV news coverage on teenagers who are going out and planting trees, carpooling, riding their bikes, etc. These teenagers are smart, and will become our new voters over the next few years.

It's time Canada acknowledges the current and next generation's concern for the environment. I think every party's priority should be to make a plan, and whoever gets in, better follow through with it. Canadians are getting fed up with fake promises and these so-called "politics."


Guelph Transit changing to 20 minute schedule

On July 6th, 2008, Guelph Transit will switch over to the much anticipated 20 minute bus schedule. After almost a year of a slow, inconvenient and frustrating 40 minute schedule, Guelph will be making many transit users smile - until they find out about the increase in property taxes and signigicant fare hikes.

On Tuesday, June 17th, the Guelph Tribune published an article about the new 20 minute service, saying that the new schedule has increased "property taxes by 0.66%" and riders "face significant fare increases."

Last week I wrote about the inconvenient schedule and unnecessary emissions from buses idling. Now, in order to have a schedule that can fit the overload of people during peak times onto a bus (within a 20 minute period,) riders must pay more. I understand that the few buses that were bought cost money, but we already pay $2.00 / ride or $58.00/ month for a bus pas.

In the Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge area, you can take a bus for $2.50 and go to any one of those 3 cities. If Guelph increases the fare to $2.50, how would this make sense? Am I missing something? Guelph is a lot smaller than those 3 cities, yet you can take a bus from Kitchener to Cambridge that will only take 20 or 25 minutes. Yes, the K-W area is bigger and would therefore have more riders, but Guelph buses don't go half the distance and don't have half the riders our neighbouring cities do.

I'm hoping that with the 20 minute service, the transit system will be able to attract more downtown workers to take the bus. However, if they don't, the rest of us who already take the bus to work are left with a higher fare, maybe even leading people to drive?? Who knows. I'm a five minute drive from downtown. It might not be cheaper to take the bus instead of my car. But I wouldn't do that, because it's impossible to park downtown and it's better for the environment. (I hope.)

For more detailed information about the schedule changes, read the Guelph Tribune article.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

AIDS Committee "20 years gone by" video

The AIDS Committee of Guelph has released a preview of the "20 years gone by" video they plan to share at the Annual General Meeting held on September 24th, 2008. The video recaps the past 20 years at the ACG, including interviews with current and past employees.

Check it out!

Friday, June 13, 2008

20 years gone by at the AIDS Committee of Guelph

A non-profit organization I volunteer with, the AIDS Committee of Guelph (ACG,) is having a summer barbeque, "20 Years Gone By." The location is not confirmed as of yet, but it will be on Thursday, July 10th, at 12pm and is open to everyone.

As a Public Relations student, I most recently developed a membership campaign for the the ACG. They are hoping to increase membership among clients, volunteers and other interested members of the community. Their membership application form is available online under "Become a Member!"Membership keeps you updated on events, funding and services; helps you become a part of the growing HIV/ AIDS movement; and allows you to attend the Annual General Meeting to vote on the Board of Directors and talk about HIV/ AIDS issues in the community.

With 20 years gone by, the ACG has been dedicated to creating a non-judgemental, friendly atmosphere. With extensive HIV/ AIDS information available, education workshops, support services, and an HIV testing location on site, they reach out and help those with or at risk of HIV, their family members and friends.

They have an annual Red Ribbon Gala, most currently held on May 3rd. The event helps fund the AIDS Committee and Masai Centre. Other ways to donate are available online.
For more information about the organization or HIV/ AIDS awareness, log on to the AIDS Committee of Guelph website.

I recommend learning more about this organization and using it's valuable resources. Remember that 62,000 Canadians are living with HIV/ AIDS.