The Red Lock Campaign is underway in Algoma District with the aim of shifting the conversation around what it’s like living with or supporting someone with HIV.
The campaign encourages people to “Unlock Love, Hope and Acceptance,” and uses red locks as a symbol for people to unlock and breakdown preconceived judgments to support those living with HIV.
“I’ve heard some really horrible stories from some of my clients, from dentists refusing to serve them because of their positive status to people assuming they use drugs and people being afraid to touch them,” says Shana Shipperbottom, Support Services Worker with the HIV/AIDS Resource Program at the Group Health Centre in Sault Ste Marie. “So we really want to encourage more understanding and empathy so that people are open to being tested and starting treatment.”
Shipperbottom says breaking down the barriers to treatment is extremely important as those with HIV can’t pass on the virus to someone else after the first three months of treatment – as long as they continue to take their medication.
“We know that stigma is the biggest barrier to treatment and prevention,” adds Shipperbottom.
Last year, the campaign distributed more than 1500 locks across Algoma District.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign has gone virtual.
There will be some physical displays throughout the district – only this time, the displays will feature a QR code that people can scan with their phones, which will then launch a video of HIV-positive individuals sharing their experiences.
The Red Lock Campaign runs until December 5, and you can find more information and show your support by visiting www.hiv-awareness.ca