What’s New? | Regional HIV/AIDS Connection

You are here

Home » Get Involved » Host an Event » What's New

What’s New?

May 1, 2024

 

Every May, RHAC celebrates some of the staff roles that move our mission forward every day. In honour of several Staff Appreciation marking our calendars this month, thank you to the Caregivers, Nurses, Harm Reduction staff, Personal Support Workers (PSWs), Paramedics, and Human Resources professionals who have made positive impacts in our organization and the lives of community members we proudly serve. 

March 1, 2024

 

Apply to join the volunteer Board of Regional HIV/AIDS Connection! RHAC Board Members can serve up to 3 consecutive two-year terms. Time commitment is 4-5 hours per month plus committee work as required.

Pictured above: RHAC Board of Directors, 2023-24.

How to Apply

Apply here

Prospective board members are asked to submit their résumé and letter of interest to hr@hivaidsconnection.ca by April 12, 2024 at 4 PM.

Please include your contact information and answer the following questions:

  • Why are you interested in serving as a member of Regional HIV/AIDS Connection's Board of Directors

  • What are your connections to individuals and diverse communities served by RHAC?

  • Can you give an example of how you might have to act in the best interest of the whole organization, at times balancing the needs of the Board, its staff, its clients and the diverse communities served by RHAC?

  • Briefly describe your experience as a committee or board member of a non- profit organization.

  • What skills, experience or perspective would you bring into board decisions and policy development?

  • Do you presently hold membership with RHAC, and are you aware of any potential conflicts of interest if you are elected to serve on the Board of Directors of RHAC?

 

Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC) is a volunteer-driven, non-profit, community- based organization serving London and six counties – Perth, Huron, Lambton, Elgin, Middlesex, and Oxford. We are a community-inspired organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for individuals and diverse communities living with, at-risk for, or affected by the challenges associated with HIV/AIDS/HCV. Our philosophy includes adherence to The Ontario Accord/GIPA (Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS), Peer Engagement, Anti- Racism/Anti-Oppression (BIPOC*), Sex Positivity, Principles of Harm Reduction, Holistic Health, and Civil Society.

RHAC recognizes that a diverse workforce and board of directors is critical to realizing our vision and accomplishing our mission. Accordingly, we strive to attract, develop, and retain highly-talented employees and board members from diverse backgrounds to meaningfully engage, empower and support the priority communities we connect with and serve. We strongly encourage people living with HIV/HCV, members of African, Caribbean, Black and other racialized communities, members of First Nations, Inuit or Métis communities, members of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, people living with disability/disabilities, people living with chronic illnesses, members of diverse faith communities, and people with diverse lived/living experiences (including, but not limited to: with substance use, addiction, sex work, and/or incarceration) to apply. We welcome and encourage you to introduce yourself, your story and your lived/living experiences to your level of comfort in your application.

RHAC is committed to and adheres to the principles of the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), Employment Standards, the Pay Equity Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and all other applicable legislation. We are committed to integration and to removing barriers to accessibility in the workplace. Additionally, we support and encourage applicants on the basis of any of the protected grounds under the Human Rights Code including but not limited to age, gender identity, race, ethnicity, disability, or sexual orientation. RHAC acknowledges that equitable access to employment is an agent in social change.

Learn more at: www.hivaidsconnection.ca/about/board/become-board-member


February 6, 2024

 

Through anecdotal drug testing reports and observations in Carepoint Consumption & Treatment Services, we would like to share the following information about possible side effects that could be associated with several batches of fentanyl potentially cut with xylazine (aka tranq dope, tranq when combined with fentanyl). 

We are seeing the following possible side effects:

• Sedation and/or drowsiness

• Extreme disorientation and ‘loss of time’, memory loss, blackouts

• Slow, irregular breathing and heartbeat

 

In addition, skin wounds and infection can develop:

• In legs/arms and are NOT associated with the injection site

• Can lead to significant infection if not treated

In the community, a person can present as not responding to stimulation after multiple doses of naloxone but is breathing and has a pulse. They appear to be in a deep sleep-like state. It is still important to call 911, giving naloxone is still a vital step in responding. 

Unregulated substances such as fentanyl are often cut with other drugs. Even a very small amount can cause an overdose or other side effects.

 

Harm reduction reccomendations when using substances:

• Try not to use alone

• Stagger use, if using in a group

• If you use alone, tell someone where you are. Ask them to check on you

• Use in small doses

• Avoid mixing substances, if possible

 

For more information, please contact: Megan Van Boheemen, Director of Harm Reduction Services, at mvanboheemen@hivaidsconnection.ca or 226.377.8721

 

Posted: February 6. Please remove this notice by February 16, 2024 as the illicit drug supply changes constantly.

October 18, 2023

 

In September, RHAC convened our Annual General Meeting (AGM) to celebrate our year-in-review and welcome new Board members! This year's AGM invited attendees to reflect on a transformative year for RHAC, marked by significant transitions and milestones.

Our Annual Report recapped a remarkable year in which the agency continued to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 while relocating our services across multiple new locations. During unpredictable times, RHAC remained resilient, responsive, and resourceful thanks to our Board, staff, volunteers, community supporters, and the many individuals who access our regional services. 

Read RHAC's 2022-23 Annual Report

 

July 1, 2023

 

Pride is not just another month on the calendar. It is a movement, and we’re working with community to keep the momentum going. This July, RHAC proudly unites around the theme of Gather Against! as we join together against harm, violence, and oppression alongside 2SLGBTQIA+ community members, allies, and our chosen families. This summer, we're heading out into community to co-host queer-friendly gatheringsWe hope you will join us this July, and beyond, in solidarity and celebration! 

 

Drag Bingo (Hosted by Galaxy Rose)

JULY 22 • 7-9 PM • London Brewing Co-operative (521 Burbrook Pl.)

Celebrate Pride with Sex Toy Bingo, hosted by London drag performer Galaxy Rose with prizes sponsored by The Stag Shop (London's Store 3). Join us for a night of fun as we celebrate queer joy, and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to walk away with a prize of your own! This event is 18+. 

 

Play Your Way Pride Booth 

JULY 22, 23 • 11 AM-4 PM • Victoria Park (580 Clarence St.)

Stop by our Play Your Way Pride Booth in Victoria Park. RHAC staff will be on-site providing free sexual health and harm reduction resources, including Naloxone training!  

 

Stronger Together: Exploring Queer Solidarity

JULY 27 • 7-9 PM • Tap Centre for Creativity (203 Dundas St.)

Join us for a conversation dedicated to exploring what queer solidarity can look like in the face of systemic harm. Moderated by local educator Melissa Alder, this discussion will feature 6 panelists from our local community with diverse experiences and perspectives to consider what queer resilience and resistance can look like as we move into the future. Doors open: 6:30 PM. Panel discussion scheduled for 1.5 hours with time for Q&A/Discussion.

June 1, 2023

June marks Indigenous History Month and Pride Month, as well as Indigenous Solidarity Day on June 21, as we join together in celebration of the rich histories and diversity of Indigenous and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.

For more information about Indigenous Solidarity Day, please visit atlohsa.com.

 

May 30, 2023

 

Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC)’s Director of Harm Reduction, Sonja Burke, has made the decision to start her retirement journey, effective July 28, 2023. 

Sonja’s career at RHAC spans 11 years of compassionate and dedicated service. During that time, Sonja has earned the respected recognition of her colleagues and community as a leader, collaborator, and advocate. Her contributions and efforts have been instrumental in the adoption and expansion of life-saving harm reduction programs, including our Counterpoint and Carepoint programs. Sonja’s long-term leadership fostered a Harm Reduction department—which started out in 2012 with 2 staff members and 2 satellite sites—into a frontline of 40+ staff and 29 satellite locations (including hospitals, mobile units, pharmacies, and partner agencies). In building RHAC’s Harm Reduction team, Sonja has remained an ally and advocate for employees and peers with lived/living experience. In 2020, she expanded the Harm Reduction Peer Program, which centres opportunities for people who use(d) substances to support our collective response to the ongoing toxic drug crisis.

 

Sonja has been a pivotal force in extending access to vital harm reduction supports—namely as a key driver behind the pilots and partnerships which: introduced Ontario’s first sanctioned Temporary Overdose Prevention Site (TOPS), now the permanent Carepoint Consumption and Treatment Service; welcomed Harm Reduction workers and strategies in hospitals;  supported the Health Outreach Mobile Engagement (H.O.M.E) program in 2021; rolled out mobile outreach vans in Elgin and Oxford counties; and introduced the Naloxone Program in 2014. In addition to her many responsibilities at RHAC, Sonja has contributed to countless committees and collaborations, including:

  • Serving on the Steering Committee for the Middlesex-London Community Drug and Alcohol Strategy (CDAS) as a Harm Reduction Pillar Co-Chair to develop a long-term, locally-developed strategy for London and Middlesex;
  • Supporting and participating in approximately 31 harm reduction research studies;
  • Sitting on multiple provincial and national working groups to address harm reduction, supervised consumption, splitting and sharing within supervised consumption sites, and safe inhalation; and
  • The Provincial Harm Reduction Advisory Committee.

Her work has reflected an unwavering commitment to social justice by centering inclusive, dignified and culturally-safe care for marginalized community members. In 2018, she helped to launch RHAC’s Harm Reduction Services partnership with Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC) and Chippewa of the Thames Health Centre. That same year, Sonja received the 2018 Atlohsa Peace Award for Bravery in recognition of her work towards Truth and Reconciliation. 

In the face of stigma and adversity, Sonja has led fellow change-makers with the courage to do what is right. Her legacy is one of unparalleled courage. Perhaps Sonja’s perseverance is best exemplified by her steering of the 7-year journey to permanently house the Carepoint Consumption and Treatment Service at 446 York Street. Alongside a dedicated team, Sonja worked tirelessly to keep services available and accessible amid a global pandemic and the complex relocation process. Most recently, she welcomed the launch of innovative drug-checking technology at Carepoint, which will allow staff and participants to test the toxicity of substances and prevent drug poisonings. 

Sonja’s impassioned voice and vision have informed the cutting-edge and compassionate quality of care that RHAC’s Harm Reduction programs offer our community. Her lasting impact is nothing short of life-saving and barrier-breaking. Please join us in extending our greatest gratitude to Sonja as we wish her the very best in her retirement!

In the coming months, RHAC will be conducting a search for RHAC’s next Director of Harm Reduction.

May 7, 2023

 

 

May 7 is #InternationalHarmReductionDay, which aims to promote evidence-based policies, practices and programs to reduce the social, legal and health-related harms associated with substance use. 

Today is an opportunity for us to acknowledge the incredible dedication and compassion of RHAC’s harm reduction workers who are driving positive change in solidarity and collaboration with people who use(d) drugs. Thank you to the community members who trust us and our partners to provide compassionate care and support through RHAC’s harm reduction programs. 

Today, and every day, we celebrate all of the #HarmReduction heroes working on the frontlines to save lives and affirm the rights and dignities of people who use drugs.

 

May 4, 2023

An Open Letter to Norwich Township Mayor and Council:

We are writing this letter to ask you to reconsider two recent decisions. 

  1. The decision to ban Pride flags in the township of Norwich.

  2. The decision to not recognize Pride Month during the month of June in the township of Norwich.

The Board of Directors of Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC) serves individuals and diverse communities living with, at-risk for, or affected by HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C in Perth, Huron, Lambton, Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford Counties. We are proud to provide all communities within our regional boundaries, including the township of Norwich, with education, programming and client services.  

Like many across our region, we were alarmed by the comments made by many members of your town council as you were deciding to restrict the types of flags permitted to fly on municipal properties and downtown lamp posts and to not recognize the month of June as Pride Month. These decisions effectively ban Pride flags and other meaningful flags for so many communities (i.e. flags representing Every Child Matters, etc.). Pride flags and Pride Month are more than just symbolic gestures. They represent the continuing legacies of hope, pride and love, which are so important to 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. 

As elected representatives of the township of Norwich, you have previously stated your commitment to community safety via the Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan to address mental and physical health, housing and addiction; yet, your recent actions do not align with these goals. Removing these symbols of love and acceptance for 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals contributes to a culture where violence and hate is tolerated. Unfortunately, your actions are not isolated and contribute to an alarming increase in homophobic and transphobic discrimination and violence in our region and across Canada.

Members of Norwich Township Council, we urge you to reconsider and reverse these exclusionary bylaws and realign yourself to your stated commitment to a safe community for all, especially those at increased risk of violence.


Sincerely,

 

Chris Moss

Chair of the RHAC Board of Directors

 

Martin McIntosh 

Executive Director

 

P.S.: Attention Mayor and Clerk, please include this letter on the public agenda of the next meeting.

 

 

March 30, 2023
 
 
Following 16 years of dedicated service, Brian Lester is retiring as Executive Director of Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC). As a friend of RHAC, we invite you to join us on the evening of March 30 at Civic Garden Complex (625 Springbank Drive, London, ON) virtually or in-person to celebrate Brian's legacy of leadership in our community:
  • 4-5 PM: Virtual Reception (Online Only)
  • 5-6 PM: Ceremony (Online and In-Person)
  • 6-7 PM: Reception (In-Person Only)
If you are able to celebrate with us, please RSVP below by following the instructions in Step 1Unable to join us? You can still participate by sharing your well wishes with Brian by following Steps 2 through 4. 

STEP 1: RSVP

The celebration will take place in-person with virtual portions live-streamed. We ask that you please register to attend the virtual reception and/or ceremony (4-6 PM), or the in-person ceremony and/or reception (5-7 PM).
  • To attend in-person, please register: here
  • To attend virtually, please register: here 

STEP 2: Sign the digital guestbook

Wish Brian well in his retirement by signing a virtual guestbook ahead of the event. The signed guestbook will be sent to Brian as a digital greeting card on March 30. Please sign the guestbook, before March 30: here.

STEP 3: Submit a word for Brian's retirement 'word cloud'

Submit 1 word or phrase you associate with Brian's leadership and legacy. Your submission will be part of a special 'word cloud' art piece gifted to Brian during the event. Please make your submission before March 14: here.

STEP 4: Share a photo

Do you have a photo of Brian from back-in-the-day that you would like to share with us? Photo submissions will be included in a public presentation at the event to celebrate Brian's longstanding history with RHAC! Send it to us before March 14 at: digital@hivaidsconnection.ca.

 

Pages