In Recognition of City’s Continuing HIV/AIDS Epidemic, ACT Launches 25th Anniversary Campaign

TORONTO, June 19, 2008 — In recognition of both its 25th anniversary and the continued urgency of HIV/AIDS in Toronto, the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) will launch a special anniversary campaign that kicks off during Pride Week and continues with a community event on July 18.

“For as long as there has been HIV/AIDS in Toronto, ACT has been around to help — but we greet every anniversary with a mixture of optimism and frustration,” says Executive Director Lori Lucier.

“Optimism, in the sense that we see more people with HIV/AIDS (PHAs) living longer and healthier lives than ever before, and frustration with the fact that HIV/AIDS is still here, that PHAs still deal with isolation and uncertainty, that people are still getting infected, and they’re still dying.”

With a new ACT logo created pro bono by advertising agency Compass 360 as its centrepiece, the 25th anniversary campaign will roll out as a series of advertisements and events designed to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and ACT’s work. The first, a community event at The Barn Nightclub, will honour those involved with ACT, past and present, with a retrospective presentation. Other events will follow leading up to World AIDS Day in December.

“Our anniversary is an opportunity to remind people that, 25 years on, our work is as urgent as it has ever been,” says Karim Karsan, co-Chair of the ACT Board of Directors. “AIDS has evolved from a fatal disease that affected a small group of people to one that affects many different people in many different ways.”

Today, there are over 15,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the city and many more at risk of infection. Two Torontonians are infected with HIV every single day.

While HIV treatments have extended lives, life with HIV/AIDS is still fraught with uncertainty. ACT has developed a uniquely comprehensive approach to programming that includes a continuum of practical, emotional, social and vocational supports tailored to individual needs — from food programs and counselling, to support groups and employment services.

“Fundamentally, ACT is a place where staff and volunteers help to make connections – to services, to information, to other people, and to community,” says Lucier.

The agency’s HIV prevention work has become similarly sophisticated, targeting vulnerable groups with information and messages tailored to their specific needs. Like all of the agency's work, it continues to be rooted in community, and based on building connections between people.

“As we look towards the future, we draw strength from our past,” says Lucier. “Strength in the knowledge that we’ve made a difference over the past 25 years. Strength in the knowledge that with the ongoing support of Torontonians, we will continue to confront HIV/AIDS in Toronto with care and compassion until the day the epidemic is over.”

Look for ACT at the Pride Day Celebrations on June 29 and join us for our community event at The Barn Nightclub (418 Church Street) on Friday, July 18 at 8 p.m. Admission is free (donations accepted) and there will be entertainment, and an ACT retrospective. ACT will announce other upcoming 25th anniversary events on its soon-to-be relaunched website.

For media inquiries, please contact Tyler Stiem, ACT’s Communication Coordinator, at 416-340-8484 ext. 225 or tstiem@actoronto.org.