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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.
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!
March 28, 2020
RHAC's next scheduled PrEP Clinic (April 3, 2020) will be provided by phone. After that time, the mode of delivery for our bi-weekly PrEP Clinic (i.e. phone appointments vs. in-person appointments) will be determined based on the most current information available about COVID-19 and municipal, provincial and federal health recommendations. We will be sure to share updates accordingly. Thank you for your ongoing flexibility, understanding and support during this time.
March 23, 2020
Effective March 23, 2020, calls to RHAC’s main phone lines at (519) 434 1601 or toll-free at 1 (866) 920-1601 will be handled through our automated messaging service. You will be provided with guided instructions for leaving your message on staff extensions. Messages will be checked regularly and responded to as soon as possible. Please note that you will still have the option to leave a message on our general agency mailbox, send emails directly to staff, or email RHAC at email@example.com. All other RHAC services remain unchanged from last week's announcement.
March 20, 2020
"Regional HIV/AIDS Connection remains committed to offering meaningful and effective support and education to those we serve, as we navigate emerging information," says Holly Taylor, RHAC's Manager of HIV/HCV Support Services. "We are pleased to share the following document, published by UNAIDS; a reputable and trusted source for information, about unique considerations surrounding the COVID-19 for people living with HIV."
According to UNAIDS, "It’s important to underline that there is currently no strong evidence that people living with HIV are at an especially increased risk of contracting COVID-19 or if they do contract it they will experience a worse outcome. This does not mean that people living with HIV should take COVID-19 lightly and they must take all precautions to protect themselves." (via UNAIDS).
"Like HIV-negative people, HIV-positive may also be at risk for coronavirus-related complications if they are over the age of 65 or have any of the underlying conditions associated with greater risk of illness, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and kidney injury." (Source: CATIE)
To learn more about what you need to know about HIV and COVID-19, visit: https://www.unaids.org/en/20200317_covid19_hiv
March 19, 2020
Please be advised that our reception service at RHAC's 186 King St. location has changed and the main door entrance will be locked.
In lieu of dropping into our physical office space, we ask that our community members seeking supports please call ahead at (519) 434-1601 to arrange a time to visit. We want to ensure we are able to meet your needs as staffing levels may change day to day. All requests for on-site service visits will be subject to COVID-19 screening measure prior to access.
If the line is busy, please feel free to leave a message and someone will return your call as quickly as possible. If you are calling outside the hours of 9am-5pm, please leave a message or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will follow up within the next business day. In addition, RHAC staff are being supported to work remotely and can be reached via the contact information listed on our Staff Directory: www.hivaidsconnection.ca/contact/staff-directory.
Our North Entrance for Counterpoint and Carepoint service users will remain accessible with continued COVID-19 screening measures in place.
It is a difficult decision for RHAC to restrict our front reception services. However, we believe that ensuring the health and safety of staff and community will allow us to continue to make a positive impact during this time. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
March 17, 2020
To our valued community members,
For 35 years, Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC) has committed to the health and wellbeing of the people we serve. Our ongoing response to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is guided by this longstanding principle as we take action to protect the health and safety of service users, staff, volunteers, and community members.
RHAC is implementing the following measures to ensure your safety, as well as the safety of our team, including:
- On-site and phone screening for COVID-19 symptoms
- Non-essential service staff will be supported to work remotely
- Strict adherence to universal precautions and pandemic mitigation hygiene standards
- Suspension of engagement in all “in person” community/stakeholder meetings
- RHAC board will use technology to conduct governance business
The following programming will be impacted as of March 17, until further notice:
- Couch crew drop in is suspended
- Social support groups are cancelled
- A Taste for Life is cancelled
- LGBTQ Open Closet social support group is cancelled
- Scheduled Community Partner Outreach and related Drop In Outreach is cancelled
- (on site) HIV/HCV testing is cancelled
- Public speaking engagements and education sessions are suspended
The following programs will continue as scheduled:
- John Gordon Home - 24/7 residential care
- Carepoint/Counterpoint - 9:00 am to 9:00 pm
- Outreach Van (Counterpoint) for people who use substances –door drop off only
- Country Cupboard – temporary home delivery beginning in April
- HIV/HCV Client Support Services – using phone as primary source of contact
RHAC will continue to closely monitor this situation and follow the recommendations of Canada’s public health authorities.
Thank you to our community partners, staff, and volunteers for working with us to deliver the best possible care and support. RHAC will post updates to this information each Monday or as needed.
Wishing health and wellness to everyone during this challenging time.
For additional information about COVID-19:
February 21, 2020
When: Saturday February 1 12:45 – 4 pm
Where: Museum London 421 Ridout Street North
Cultural groups and services present their art, crafts,entertainment, music and delicious food. Special Guest Speaker: Christopher Taylor Professor at theUniversity of Waterloo. He currently teaches in the Department of History and the Arts First program and is anaccomplished author of Flying Fish in the Great White North: The Autonomous Migration of Black Barbadians.
Contact: Museum London 519-661-0333 Leroy: email@example.com
For more information on events visit: http://www.hivaidsconnection.ca/blackhistorymonth
January 14, 2020
The overdose crisis continues to impact communities in Ontario and across Canada. Opioid-related deaths have been on the rise since 2003, with 1,474 opioid-related deaths in Ontario in 2018, according to Public Health Ontario (PHO). Southwestern Ontario continues to be one of the hardest hit regions in both urban and rural areas. In 2018, Middlesex-London had 62 opioid-related deaths (PHO).
London, Ontario was the first community to open a provincially funded Overdose Prevention Site in February of 2018. In April 2019 the Temporary Overdose Prevention Site began the transition from a temporary solution to an annually funded Consumption and Treatment Service (CTS) as per the new provincial CTS program. RHAC is the primary program operator. RHAC works in collaboration 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 response. On August 5th, 2019, the CTS expanded operating hours to 12 hours per day, 365 days per year - including statutory holidays. “The increase in service hours has strengthened our capacity to respond to this crisis and we are grateful to the Ministry of Health for supporting the work in London” said Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health of MLHU.
Since the opening of the service at Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC), Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU), along with many community partners have responded to this crisis by reversing over 209 opioid poisonings, supporting over 30,000 visits and facilitating 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.
While moving through the process to establish the intended permanent location, MLHU and RHAC worked together to identify a name worthy of the program’s remarkable impact. We are pleased to share with the community that the program is officially operating under the brand name of Carepoint. “By bringing this service to our community’s most marginalized we are demonstrating that we care about those who continue to struggle with addiction” said Brian Lester, Executive Director of RHAC, “and the point of the program is to provide life-saving services while ensuring other support needs are met – hence Carepoint."
The program name also has a brand identity that integrates the global overdose awareness colours of silver and purple. The branding graphic honours the origins of London’s Overdose Prevention site while transitioning to the new brand identity. Depending on your visual perspective when viewing the logo, it can be seen as OP for overdose prevention or CP for Carepoint.
MLHU, RHAC and LIHC are pleased to share this milestone with our community as we continue to save lives, prevent new HIV and HCV transmissions and connect marginalized individuals to care and support across our community!
Brian Lester, Executive Director, Regional HIV/AIDS Connection – 519-434-1601
Dan Flaherty, Communications Manager, MLHU - 519-663-5317 ext. 2469 or 519-617-0570 (cell.)
December 20, 2019
The theme of World AIDS Day 2019 was “Communities Make the Difference." This is very evident in London and the surrounding counties. This year, a record number of 2,110 Red Scarves were handmade by members of the community throughout London, Perth, Huron and Lambton Counties. RHAC staff and volunteers were at 5 different pop-up events bringing scarves out to communities to help raise awareness and end stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. In the spirit of community, several local businesses also participated with window displays, including: Nova Vita Hair Studio & Esthetics, Wabi Sabi Hair & Body, Grow & Bloom Co., Regency Florists, Starbucks North (Chapters/Indigo Masonville). We were also privileged to once again partner with students from Fanshawe College’s “Prism” group, Brescia University College and Kings University College whose campus pop-ups helped to raise awareness and end stigma. HIV/AIDS is more prevalent in marginalized communities and these events were a fantastic opportunity to start a conversation on campuses about HIV/AIDS and how students can help end the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. I attended a Health Fair last week at Western University's main campus and had numerous students stop by our table to say they had seen the pop up and wanted to get more information.
Our World AIDS day Vigils were held again this year, one in London and the other in Stratford. In Stratford, we had the pleasure of being joined by students from St. Mary’s and Stratford high schools who performed songs prior to the Vigil. Most had never attended a Vigil of any sort and were eager to learn more about its significance. It’s a solemn event to remember those who were lost to AIDS-related illnesses. This year, our Red Scarf tags were dedicated in-memory of lives lost to HIV/AIDS. When preparing the church for the vigil, we placed Red Scarves on the end of the pews. I sat at a random pew, at the back of the church, and glanced at the scarf in front of me. This is what I saw:
The tag reads: “This scarf is dedicated in memory of Richard R.” Richard was my cousin and my favourite person in the world. He was a bright, beautiful light that was extinguished at the young age of 32. A brilliant, kind, funny man who loved his family above all else. He was also a teacher, role model and member of a broad community in Toronto. He was so much more than an HIV diagnosis or a death from AIDS. I wasn’t surprised to find Richard’s tag in front of me, he is always looking out for me, guiding me and loving me.
Oh behalf of RHAC and the families, like mine, who have lost a loved one to HIV/AIDS, I thank you. Thank you for giving your time, your talent and a little bit of your community to ours. It truly means the world.
Coordinator of Volunteer Services