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What’s New?

January 3, 2013

The Western Ontario Opening Doors HIV Counseling Initiative is hosting the annual conference in Windsor on March 7 & 8. The 2013 conference, called Opening Doors: Well On Our Way!, will focus on the important intersections between mental and physical health and how we can improve our resiliency. There will be speakers, a PHA panel and wellness activities, as well as socializing, networking and great food!

Registration is now open, both online and on paper. To register online, visit Hard copy forms are also available at the reception desk at RHAC. Clients are encouraged to attend, as well as affected friends and family. Service providers and students are also encouraged to register and learn more about the issues affecting people living with HIV/AIDS.

For information on the event, please contact Jennifer Gritke by email or phone (519-434-1601).

December 18, 2012

Season's Greetings from all of us at RHAC.

We wish you healthy and happy holidays! RHAC will be closed December 24-26 and January 1. We will be offering Needle & Syringe Program services only  via our north entrance from 9 am-5 pm December 27 & 28 and from 9 am-3 pm December 31. All other agency services will resume Wednesday, January 2.

December 13, 2012

2012 Honour Roll Recipient, David Feeney

David Feeney has given seven excellent years of service to RHAC. During that time, he exhibited integrity in his approach to the work, showed true leadership with the Board and demonstrated a genuine commitment to RHAC’s mission. He also demonstrated caring, concern and unwavering dedication.

In David’s words, “For many years I avoided becoming involved in the AIDS movement because I didn’t want
to reflect upon the terrible illness that had robbed me of friends. Eventually, I internalized the old adage “you are either part of the problem or part of the solution,” and joined the board with the goal of trying to make a difference.”

David Feeney definitely became part of the solution. He carried forward the history, the struggle and the courage and, in fact, made a difference.

Thank you, David.

December 3, 2012

The following message from RHAC Executive Director, Brian Lester, appeared in The London Free Press on Saturday, December 1, 2012 - World AIDS Day.

HIV/AIDS –Which Story to Tell?

December 1st is World AIDS Day and I have been debating which HIV/AIDS story to tell. Shall I share the good news UNAIDS report of a 50 percent reduction in infections across 25 countries? Should I note the promising phase one results of the first and only preventative HIV vaccine developed by Dr. Chil-Yong Kang and his team at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry? Should I mark this moment with the fact that with early access to treatment people living with HIV can anticipate a life span similar to their HIV negative brothers and sisters? 

Such developments in the fight against HIV/AIDS indicate strong signs that we are on a promising trajectory toward a cure. Each of these good news developments will help move the world toward the UNAIDS goal of zero new infections and zero deaths. But what about their goal of zero stigma!  In the context of “getting to zero stigma” the other HIV/AIDS story must be told. It’s a story that reveals stigma’s profound negative impact on those living with this virus. HIV stigma could be the single most powerful deterrent to reaching the 2015 UNAIDS goals.

A 2102 report funded by CIHR Social Research Centre in HIV Prevention entitled “HIV and AIDS in Canada: A National Survey Summary Report” indicated the following facts;

• 16% of Canadians “feel afraid” of people living with HIV
• 18% would be somewhat or very uncomfortable working in an office with someone living with the illness
• 23% expressed discomfort shopping at a small neighborhood grocery store owned by someone living with HIV/AIDS
• 35% would be somewhat or very uncomfortable if their child was attending a school where one of the students was known to be living with HIV
• 54% would be somewhat or very uncomfortable with a close friend or family member dating someone with HIV

Such statistics are a clear indicator that after 30 plus years many people in Canada continue to hold irrational fears on the subject. These fears drive stigma and challenge HIV/AIDS work on many levels. Stigma is defined as “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person”.  There should be no disgrace in living with HIV yet in 2012 stigma continues to deter people from accessing care, treatment, testing and support. Because of this fact the consequences of HIV stigma can be deadly.

This leads me to reflect on the recent passing of an individual who found his way to our services this past year.  “James” was a 39 year-old man, who over the past 10 years, could not seem to find his way through HIV stigma to seek out life saving treatment. He couldn’t make the call for help. He couldn’t acknowledge his status to others for fear of losing his family, friends and employment. He couldn’t disclose because of the paralyzing fear caused by HIV stigma! When he became sick he finally contacted us - but it was too late. His HIV/AIDS related illnesses had advanced to a stage where treatment was not viable. He passed away in a few short months.

The passing of James and others like him offers a stark reminder that even with such hope on the horizon, HIV/AIDS continues to be a serious illness with life altering and even life ending impacts. If only there was medication or a vaccine to treat or cure HIV/AIDS stigma? On World AIDS Day and every day Regional HIV/AIDS Connection continues to stand in solidarity with those living with, affected by, or at risk of HIV/AIDS. The hopeful story of a cure is on the horizon but until then the story of HIV stigma needs to change.

November 29, 2012

RHAC has secured its own tree to be lit completely red throughout the month of December in Victoria Park, London. The tree will be accompanied by a sign that identifies it as the Remember, Honour, Celebrate tree sponsored by Regional HIV/AIDS Connection.

Please join us for its lighting this Friday evening, November 30. The official program for the evening run by the city starts at 6:15 p.m. with the lights coming on at 6:50 p.m. We will have a contingent of staff and volunteers there to watch the lights come on!

The tree is in the northwest "corner" of the park, closer to Williams Coffee House.

November 19, 2012

The Ontario AIDS Network Honour Roll Awards were created in 1996. They are conferred annually at a gala award ceremony. Over the past 12 years they have become Ontario's most respected awards for HIV/AIDS work within the province.

The evening of Saturday, November 17, a contingent of RHAC staff travelled to Toronto to support Rob Newman as he received the Persons with HIV/AIDS Leadership award.

Congratulations, Rob! We are proud of you.

November 12, 2012

AIDS Awareness Week runs from Monday, November 26-Saturday, December 1.

We have many events scheduled throughout the week. Visit our AIDS Awareness Week page on this site.

October 24, 2012

RHAC has a rich history of developing strong long term partnerships as we strive to effectively address HIV/AIDS/HCV in the communities we serve.  From a social determinants of health perspective the challenges associated with HIV/AIDS/HCV intersect in many ways often contributing to a decreased quality of life and diminished health outcomes for those we serve.  We at RHAC recognize that we can’t address these issues in isolation and that strategic partnership development is key to achieving success in our work.  The notion of collaboration and partnership is embedded in our guiding principles;

We believe “In actively pursuing partnerships and collaborative initiatives that enhance both access to resources and the quality of services and supports available to individuals affected by HIV/AIDS/HCV.”

Over the years we have developed partnerships which are built on a foundation of common purpose, shared values and desire to affect change in the lives of the individuals we serve.  Maintaining effective partnerships is not always easy, yet I would offer that at the core of any successful partnership is the element of trust. Trust between organizational leadership and trust among the staff working at the front line will solidify partnerships and inspire goodwill to work through issues.  Trust is earned over time through clarity in communication, actions of consistency and demonstrated integrity while maintaining a lens that ensures the shared people we serve are at the centre of our collaborative intent.   In 2012 we have a number of long term and new successful partnerships which serve to enhance RHACs capacity to provide meaningful programs to some of our community’s most marginalized.  Our many awesome partners are proudly listed on this website  at

To the many partners of Regional HIV/AIDS Connection I offer a sincere thank you. It is your interest in, and willingness to work with us that enhances our capacity to meet our mission.  Know that we appreciate your contributions and we are committed to doing all that we can to create triple a win outcome for the people we serve, RHAC and each of our highly valued partners.

Thanks for your continued support!

Brian Lester
Executive Director

September 18, 2012

Our 3rd annual Are You Doin' It? campaign is almost upon us!

Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC) in partnership with London Intercommunity Health Centre’s Options Clinic and the Middlesex-London Health Unit is holding Testing Awareness Week, September 24–28, 2012. The campaign is also in conjunction with Health Units from Perth, Huron, Elgin, Lambton and Oxford counties.

This public awareness campaign encourages people to learn about HIV and STI transmission, risk and testing.

Visit to find out where to get tested, important facts about getting tested, videos and much more!

Download the AYDI? poster to print and use at your convenience.

September 12, 2012

Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life London happened the evening of Saturday, September 15 at Wonderland/Springbank Gardens.

The weather was gorgeous and we had a wonderful time walking in the evening as the sun started to go down. See the photo above of walkers holding red paper lanterns - a very nice touch!

To date we have raised approximately $35,000!

Until the end of October you can still make a pledge online and help us reach our overall goal of $40,000 to support free programs and services offered by Camp Wendake, John Gordon Home and Regional HIV/AIDS Connection. To make a pledge visit