World AIDS Day: Canadian Red Cross urges communities to tackle gender inequality

    OTTAWA, Nov. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - On the eve of World AIDS Day, the Canadian
Red Cross calls on Canadians to be at the forefront of the fight against HIV -
including tackling gender inequalities.
    "We will not reduce the dreadful HIV statistics unless gender
inequalities are tackled,", says Chris Rosene, director of development at the
Canadian Red Cross. "The stark reality is that tens of millions of women all
over the world continue to be prevented from managing their own sexuality, and
daily face coercion, abuse, and violence."
    The Red Cross HIV/AIDS strategy focuses on promoting prevention among
vulnerable groups, supporting greater access to care and treatment, and
reducing stigma and discrimination. The Canadian Red Cross is currently
supporting community-based HIV/AIDS programming both at home and abroad.
    In Canada, high levels of HIV/AIDS infections among Aboriginal
communities are a devastating reality. The Tipi of Courage is a
community-based initiative, which is a partnership between the Canadian Red
Cross and the Aboriginal section of Calgary's Coalition on HIV/AIDS.
Volunteers deliver workshops to empower Aboriginal people to protect
themselves against the threat of HIV/AIDS with teachings gathered from First
Nation communities blended with traditional workshops about the disease. To
date, the Tipi of Courage has reached 19,000 people.
    Around the world, trained Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers are involved
in home-based care programs. They play a unique role visiting clients,
supporting treatment, motivating safe behaviour, providing advice on
nutrition, health and hygiene, bringing psycho-social support to clients and
their families, and sending clients to clinics when their health deteriorates.
    "Due to the lack of health care personnel in many low income-countries,
Red Cross or Red Crescent volunteers are often the only ones who can provide
practical support and skill development in their communities," says Rosene.
"Our local volunteers are well prepared to overcome cultural challenges,
especially when it comes to relaying prevention messages."
    HIV infection rates occurring in China and India are of great concern.
The Canadian Red Cross is supporting community-based programs in both
countries to help educate and support groups particularly at risk of
contracting HIV, such as commercial sex workers, intravenous drug users, and
young people. These programs draw on local Red Cross volunteers to also help
tackle the stigma that prevents many people from being tested and treated.
    The Canadian Red Cross is actively supporting the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' appeal for $342 million to
support a five-year program to increase existing programs in Southern Africa.
This area represents the worst-affected region in the world with approximately
12.3 million people living with HIV, including 860,000 children less than
14 years old. Programming will reach 50 million people across ten countries
with messages of prevention and fighting the stigma of HIV. It will also
provide services for 250,000 people living with HIV and 460,000 children who
have been orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV.
    Canadians wishing to make a financial donation may donate online, call
1-800-418-1111 or contact their local Canadian Red Cross office. The 24-hour
toll free line accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Cheques should
be made payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked HIV/AIDS International
and mailed to Canadian Red Cross National Office, 170 Metcalfe Street, Suite
300, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2P2.

    The Canadian Red Cross is a member of the International Red Cross and Red
Crescent Movement, which includes the International Federation of Red Cross
and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and
186 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Its mission is to improve
the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada
and around the world.

For further information:

For further information: or to set up interviews: Canadian Red Cross
Media Line, (613) 740-1994

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