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Come As You Are: With Pride June 15, 2022 @ 7:00pm

As we collectively celebrate Pride month, it is essential to recognize the significant contributions of the LGBTQ2S+ community within the fundamental roots of Harm Reduction. The movement emerged out of HIV/AIDS activism in the late 1980s and 90s when many gay men were dying due to risky sex/drug use practices and the stigma around the gay community. At that time, experts knew little about this blood-borne infection's prevention, transmission and treatment. Loved ones of those diagnosed with the virus had to fight for equitable healthcare and organize actions to have decision-makers pay attention, a direct correlation to the current fight for Harm Reduction in drug use.

We now know that the prevention of HIV infection happens mainly with practical strategies such as condom use and new syringe distribution. Science has also caught up and provides several options for managing this disease. By taking medications and treatment as directed by healthcare providers, one can live undetectable in their viral load and not be transmissable to others. It is astonishing how far HIV treatment has come since it was first declared a crisis. Education and advocacy from the LGBTQ2S+ community have and always will play an integral role in society’s understanding of this issue.

In 1988, an organization was formed in Red Deer to meet the needs of underserved populations such as the queer community. What was then named Central Alberta AIDS Network Society (CAANS) has become who we are today at Turning Point Society. Striving to be inclusive in programming, Turning Point offers direct support from the Central Alberta Men’s Outreach (CAMO) program and Health Promotion. These services aim to increase testing of HIV/other STBBIs and uptake to treatment while providing education around safe sex/ drug use and creating awareness opportunities for engagement in this population.

Rural Outreach also utilizes these strategies in smaller communities by having conversations with people at risk about testing and sexual health, participating in Pride events and connecting people to appropriate resources and supports.

Please contact us if you or a loved one would like more information. We are happy to provide a free supply of condoms for any organizations or groups in the area to encourage safer practices.

Happy Pride, you are seen and loved!

Jenn McCrindle, Rural Outreach


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