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OPSEU Silent Auction is not silent about HIV/AIDS

Illustration of red ribbons for HIV/AIDS

Message from the Board of the OPSEU Live and Let Live Fund

We send a huge thank you to all who supported the Live and Let Live Silent Auction at the 2018 Convention.  The Silent Auction raised over $17,000, the most successful auction ever.  We also owe a debt of gratitude to Marisa Stagliano and Anna Lisa Parato, the two OPSEU staff who played a central role in organizing and hosting this year’s Silent Auction.

OPSEU’s Live & Let Live Fund, created in 2003, is OPSEU’s channel for financial support in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS in Ontario and in Southern Africa.  Live and Let Live is funded by an annual standing donation from the OPSEU Board, the annual Silent Auction at Convention and through the generosity of members and locals via annual donations and contributions to the Silent Auction.

The rates of HIV infection are again on the rise, after many years of decline.  The City of London, Ontario recently declared HIV a public health emergency. HIV can strike anyone, at any time, it isn’t confined to any segment of society.  Due to advances in medicine, HIV is no longer a death sentence, instead it is a chronic disease to be managed over one’s lifetime.  

HIV is not spread by casual contact. There is no risk of becoming infected with HIV by working on the same assembly line, using the same equipment, sharing locker rooms or toilet facilities or being in the same office as someone with HIV infection or AIDS.  

The stigma attached to HIV, however, is very real and has very real impacts on ones’ health.  

HIV / AIDS is a labour issue and OPSEU is leading the fight in the labour movement.  Workers can be infected on the job, can be marginalized on the job, and have been fired for accessing HIV medications through their drug plans.  Under human rights law, all persons capable of performing the essential duties or requirements of a job or service are entitled to be treated equally.  As yet, there is no cure for HIV or AIDS. Individuals infected with HIV have been receiving improved care and newer and more effective treatment including prophylaxis. There are many anti-retroviral drugs available. But so far, these treatments can only slow or suppress the virus, not eliminate it.

We invite you to speak to your locals and your area councils in preparation for the 2019 Silent Auction.  Be on the lookout for updates on the OPSEU website on ways your support is making a difference in the lives of many.