Casey House, Canada’s first and only stand-alone hospital for people living with HIV/AIDS has come up with a new initiative ahead of World AIDS Day on Saturday.
“51 per cent of Canadians still believe that they can transmit or get HIV through touch, through hugging, through sharing a glass with somebody,” said Joanne Simons, the CEO of Casey House.
“We need to smash that myth.”
On Thursday, Casey House opened the doors to Healing House, the world’s first HIV-positive spa in downtown Toronto. The 18 HIV-positive individuals participating in Healing House have been trained by Melissa Doldron, an RMT for the Toronto Blue Jays on how to provide healing touch services like hand, neck and shoulder massages to educate people on the power of touch.
Juno Award winner and activist Keshia Chanté received her first-ever healing touch hand massage from Muluba, a 25 –year-old woman who’s been living with the illness since birth.
“I understand there’s a whole big world out there and there’s a lot of ignorant people and there’s also a lot of mean people,” Muluba said.
“One of those things I’m passionate about is HIV/AIDS awareness because I’ve seen how far the stigma has gone around the world, and how it’s negatively impacted people’s lives,” Chanté said.
“People made me eat on paper plates and paper cups. I’ve been turned away from a massage therapist. I’ve been turned away from a dentist,” Muluba said.
“I’m not surprised because I’ve lived it.”