Event helps ensure HIV won’t prevent anyone from living a full and meaningful life
This fall, after almost two decades under the name “AIDS Walk,” Nine Circles Community Health Centre is reinventing Manitoba’s largest annual fundraiser and awareness raising event in support of people living with HIV. On Sunday, September 23, 2018, the community will gather in Vimy Ridge Memorial Park for the inaugural Red Ribbon Walk & Run. The event includes participants’ choice of a 2km walk around West Broadway or a 5km run through Wolseley, as well as activities in the park. Donations help ensure HIV will not prevent anyone from being able to live a full and meaningful life.
“Events like this are important to make sure HIV stays on people’s radar,” says Mike Payne, Executive Director of Nine Circles. “HIV care and treatment have changed a lot since we started doing AIDS Walk 16 years ago. What hasn’t changed much is the public perception of HIV and the discrimination that people living with HIV often face. As an organization, we focus a lot of our efforts on HIV prevention, but it’s also important for us to address the challenges faced by those who have already been diagnosed, and make sure they have access to the services they need to thrive.”
The Red Ribbon Walk & Run supports services at Nine Circles that focus on wellness, social connection, food security, economic participation and health equity for people living with HIV, including programs like Nine Circles’ Food Bank, support groups, and a fund that provides financial support for quality of life needs when no other source of income is available. Donations also support initiatives that fight HIV stigma in the community, through projects informed by the experiences of people living with HIV and education that promotes awareness and understanding.
“As someone living with HIV, being at the event and seeing the amount of support from the community here in Winnipeg is such a wonderful and overwhelming experience,” says Marco Sousa. “Being diagnosed at 23 years old, I felt a great deal of fear and shame and I isolated myself because the stigmas attached to HIV. The support, information and treatment I got from Nine Circles helped me in all aspects of my well-being and donations through events like the Red Ribbon Walk & Run ensured those resources were available for me.”
The event gets underway at 9:30am on September 23, with opening ceremonies starting at 10:30am, and the Walk and Run leaving the park at 11am. Other activities include an inflatable bouncer, face painting, a costume contest, a scavenger hunt, and a tent for adults that uses carnival-style games to educate about sexual health topics like HIV/STI prevention. People can register for the event as individuals or teams and donate at www.ninecircles.ca/redribbon.