HIV/AIDS rates in Saskatchewan are the highest in Canada and the Aboriginal community is amongst the most affected.
The Saskatoon AIDS Walk For Life takes place on Sept. 22 with the goal of raising greater awareness and $50,000.
Kevin Seesequasis, who works with the Avenue Community Centre, says HIV/AIDS infection is still somewhat of a taboo subject within the Indigenous community but things are changing.
“There’s a lot of stigma I think with individual members not wanting to be ostracized,” he says. “So it’s not as common to hear about these issues but I think overall, in general, that we are seeing a lot of people recognizing that these are issues that have to be discussed.”
James Dixon, an official with AIDS Saskatoon, says it might surprise some people to know just how prevalent HIV/AIDS infection is in Saskatchewan.
“We just want to bring awareness to the fact that HIV rates in Saskatchewan are more than double the national average of Canada,” he says. “So, it’s part fundraising and it’s part awareness raising as well.”
Last year, about 200 people took part in the walk and it raised more than $46,000.
The first fundraising and awareness walk for HIV/AIDS was held in 1986 in Vancouver.
In 1996, it grew to a national event raising over $38 million for community-based AIDS service organizations since and attracting well over a half million participants.
The walk is sponsored by Scotiabank.