PHAN asks Faith & Community Leaders To Help ‘CLOSE THE GAP’ [#WAD2014]

By Adam, November 27th, 2014 in

PHAN has invited faith and community leaders to our Dec. 1 World AIDS Day event to explore the role that faith communities in Peel can play in the fight to end the HIV epidemic.

This year’s topic marks a new focus for PHAN in a province and region where faith and religious communities have not always been included in the discussion about preventing HIV and supporting people living with and affected by the disease, says executive director Phillip Banks.

“We’re aiming to build some new relationships that recognize the role faith leaders have in challenging HIV stigma and helping end the epidemic,” says Banks. “In Peel, we have a wonderfully diverse population, and many of our community members are strongly linked to various faith communities. We won’t be successful in our efforts if we don’t reach out to include them.”

A panel of faith and community leaders will help to get this important discussion started at the Living Arts Centre from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 1. The World AIDS Day event will feature a short film screening, information booths, a panel discussion and a candle light memorial.  Click to view  the  bios for panel guests

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The role that local faith communities play will contribute to the global theme for World AIDS Day of “Closing the Gap” between people who have access to HIV prevention and treatment and those who are being left behind. On a national scale, an estimated 71,300 Canadians were living with HIV, and an estimated 3,175 new HIV infections occurred in 2011. According to UNAIDS, 1.5 million people worldwide died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2013. By the end of 2013, an estimated 35 million people around the world were living with HIV.

Leading scientists and HIV advocates now believe an end to the HIV epidemic is within reach. Closing the gap will help us achieve UNAIDS goals of “Zero new HIV infections, Zero new AIDS deaths, and Zero discrimination.”