World AIDS Day: Acknowledge, Remember, Honour.

We acknowledge people who live with HIV, remember those we have lost, and honour those who are still working to end AIDS. This year we’ve increased our annual donation to Casey House by $1000 for a total of $3,000 and we more than doubled our annual contribution to Rainbow Railroad from $2,000 to $5,000.

Casey House is Canada’s first and only stand-alone hospital for people with HIV/AIDS. In 1988, the disease was stigmatized, and so were the people who lived with it. Fear ran so deep that Casey House’s first patient was delivered to the door by a team of medics wearing hazmat suits. He was greeted by Casey House with an embrace. It was the first time he’d been touched in months. Casey House is still one of the few places where people with HIV/AIDS can seek care without judgement. They are more than a place that saves lives, they are a place that speaks up, shines understanding through compassion, and empowers people to get better.

Rainbow Railroad helps people In countries all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) people live in basic fear for their freedom, their safety and their lives. They often have nowhere to turn because their government and police not only tolerate but encourage this brutality. HIV still affects LGBT people at a disproportionate rate, and having HIV as a refugee means increased stigma, difficulty finding access to care as well as outright discrimination.

Rainbow Railroad exists to help these people get out of danger to somewhere safe. In the spirit of and with homage to the Underground Railroad, they help LGBTQI people as they seek safe haven from state, enabled violence, murder or persecution. They are able to support, provide information, and help to arrange safe transportation to somewhere in the world where they can live their lives in freedom.