Why HIV Community Link
Our clients are our main focus and the reason we exist. Our volunteers are at the heart of our services. At the same time, we partner with our community to develop a caring and compassionate society. Read the stories of some of the people who make HIV Community Link possible and better every day.
Ann found out she was HIV positive in 2011. It took years to figure out what was wrong, because she wasn’t considered to be in a high risk group. A couple of months later, she came to HIV Community Link. “When I got here I was treated very well, there was not judgement, no stigma”, says Ann. Before living on the street, Ann had worked in an office for years. ”I was on the street from 2004 to 2008. I can understand now how it happens. It’s very easy. They say one paycheck away is what a lot of people are at right now from living on the street,” says Ann, who is happy she doesn’t have to be worried about her basic needs anymore. She adds that HIV Community Link helped her with her Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) and housing applications. But the most important part, she says, is “coming and meeting people, people that you didn’t have to be afraid to say you are HIV positive. I use the many services offered at HIV Community Link for people living with HIV including counselling, massage, acupuncture, food hampers, Friday lunches, laundry machines and attending conferences. This helps people to live with their condition and cope with it,” shares Ann, adding that it’s really important to educate health professionals so everybody gets tested, not just those who are considered to be at a greater risk. “HIV is everyone’s disease. Please help in the education, research, and prevention of HIV,” Ann concludes.
Gerald has been actively volunteering with our organization for over three years, helping out in several capacities. He is always looking for ways to get involved and help our organization. Gerald frequently supports at our Volunteer Activity Nights, has been a great contribution to our annual AIDS Walk, casinos and our annual Splash of Red event.
He is a cherished friend in our office with staff and clients. “I just like to step in whenever and wherever I am needed. I just like to help out as it does also give me a better understanding and workable knowledge of helping other people that need support”, says Gerald. Thank you, Gerald!
Marie is enrolled in Business Administration. She has been working in the sex industry for three years. “I started doing sex work when I was 18. It’s completely my choice. It’s your body, you should be able to do what you want with it, and you should have the choice to be who you want to be,” shares Marie, adding that she found out about Shift when she first started working with an escort agency. She says it felt really good to receive non-judgmental support from Shift. “I get to discuss safety measures; I get to be up-to-date on different health things, on contraception and STIs. Shift really helps me think clearly, makes sure I make good choices and that I keep my wellbeing. It’s good to be able to talk to someone about the things I’m going through and have someone understand”. Marie wants to start her own escort agency and mentor other women who are starting sex work. She thinks that agencies like HIV Community Link and programs like Shift should be a “requirement” so that the community can support the safety and inclusion of sex workers. “I feel like they do such a big I want to say benefit, to people in the sex industry because the chance to really go over things and get a neutral point of view helps so much”.