Calgarians came together Sunday morning to raise awareness and funds for people living with HIV.
The annual Scotiabank AIDS Walk took place at Eau Claire Plaza. The funds will help provide programs for a growing number of Albertans with HIV.
According to the latest data from two years ago, Alberta had the third-highest rate of new diagnoses with over 6,500 known diagnoses, of which Calgary had the highest proportion at 7.5 per cent.
Stephanie McLean, Minister of Service Alberta and Minister of Status of Women, has been attending the event for nearly two decades, inspired by her mother who was diagnosed with HIV in the 1990s.
“When I was a little girl my mother found out that she is HIV positive and that she contracted the disease from her first husband,” McLean said.
“So you never know who is infected or who is affected by this disease. And as a small child the stigma was too much for me to be able to talk about it or get support from my friends or their families. It’s still heavily stigmatized and we need to increase education and awareness,” McLean said.
Over 200 people were at the event to raise money for HIV Community Link which is a non-profit that works in Calgary Medicine Hat and Brooks to ensure wellness for individuals affected by HIV and Hepatitis C through prevention, education and support.
“Additionally we need to increase awareness of the fact that we haven’t cured this. And transmission rates are still going up. They are going up in Calgary and so we need additional awareness and we can provide that awareness through organizations like HIV Community Link here in Calgary but they need the funding to be able to do that,” said McLean.