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CAYR marks World AIDS Day with virtual vigil, presentation

The Newmarket-based organization will be commemorating World AIDS Day with a Zoom candlelight vigil and presentation on Dec. 1.

To commemorate World AIDS Day 2021 CAYR Community Connections (formally the AIDS Committee of York Region), in partnership with Richmond Hill United Church, is hosting a virtual presentation Dec. 1.

The CAYR team will discuss advancements in treatment and the organization's Red For Change campaign — an annual social media campaign to raise awareness for HIV and AIDS.

Men's health coordinator Lorcan O'Donnell will speak about inequalities faced during the COVID-19 pandemic with regards to HIV and AIDS.

"This whole event is basically a reminder that there's another pandemic," said Mark Koning, manager of communications and operations, but this one has no vaccine.

"There hasn't been as much attention around that and we just want to remind people that 'hey, we're still here and we still need help and we still have challenges so we need to move forward because there's been a lot of advancements and we just don't want to stop now.'"

Excerpts of ‘Hearts Linked by Courage, People Supporting People,' which chronicles the lived experience of those affected by HIV and AIDS, will be read.

Hearts Linked by Courage is a book series that supports the not-for-profit sector by showcasing real-life stories about various causes.

Though improvements have been made in the 40 years since the first report on AIDS, the disease remains incurable and remains a persistent issue, said Koning.

"It's still a very real illness. HIV is still very much around, people are still contracting it, people are still getting sick so we just want to remind people."

The presentation will conclude with a candlelight vigil and a moment of silence followed by a traditional Indigenous closing. Viewers are invited to participate in the vigil with their own wax, electric or photographic candle.

The two-hour Zoom event is free to attend and will begin at 6:30 p.m.

To attend the event email Mark Koning at [email protected] by Nov. 30 and a link will be provided to registered participants.