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TORONTO, Nov. 7, 2023 – The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) today revealed It Ends With Us as the theme of its 27th annual fundraising gala, Bloor Street Entertains (BSE). The sold-out marquee event, which has raised over 20 million dollars for HIV research, testing and awareness, takes place on November 30, 2023, in Toronto, on the eve of World AIDS Day. This year’s edition, presented by Signature Partner BMO, highlights the pivotal role of communities in ending the HIV epidemic.
Canada continues to grapple with an HIV epidemic that disproportionately affects under-resourced populations. This includes Indigenous people (who make up 18.2 per cent of new HIV cases), women (who represent 32 per cent of new cases, notably Indigenous, African, Caribbean, and Black women), and people who inject drugs (who make up 22.6 per cent of new cases). These figures emphasize the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to address HIV, particularly among marginalized populations.
In response to these realities, CANFAR’s Chair, Andrew Pringle, underscores the importance of addressing systemic inequalities and cultural barriers. He states, “CANFAR’s mission is dedicated to ending the HIV epidemic in Canada. Achieving this goal requires close collaboration with communities to advocate for evidence-based HIV prevention and treatment, implementing non-discriminatory access to HIV testing, and empowering community networks.”
With a rich history as a significant contributor to HIV research and awareness, Bloor Street Entertains 2023 promises to be an unforgettable edition, featuring a world-class dining experience curated by Toronto’s top chefs, held at prestigious fashion houses and other signature venues throughout the Bloor-Yorkville area. The evening crescendos into an electrifying after-party at The Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, headlined by the sensational Grammy award-winning artist and queer ally Mya and a preshow performance by R&B artist Sean Jones. A prestigious silent auction, open to the public before the event, allows attendees to further their contributions to CANFAR’s cause.
“BSE wouldn’t be possible without the unwavering support of our sponsors,” said CANFAR CEO Alex Filiatrault. “Partnerships within our communities are essential. They truly make an impact and allow us to advance our fight against HIV.”
Lead partners for BSE 2023 include BMO, Mantella Corporation, Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, The Printing House (TPH), Labatt Breweries, and the P. Austin Family Foundation. This year’s edition of BSE is co-chaired by Candice Sinclair, Janice Fricker, Michael Liebrock and Sylvia Mantella, CANFAR Board member and BSE Honourary Chair.
2023 WORLD AIDS DAY CAMPAIGN: IT ENDS WITH US
To commemorate World AIDS Day and continue the momentum of BSE’s “It Ends With Us,” CANFAR joined forces with CATIE, Canada’s lead source for HIV and hepatitis C information, as well as Gilead, on a national World AIDS Day campaign under the same name. Launching November 8, 2023, with the support of over 80 partner organizations across Canada, the initiative is a rallying cry that communities must come together to eliminate HIV as a public health threat.
The campaign responds to the pressing issue of rising rates of new HIV cases in Canada (an 11.3 per cent increase in new HIV cases in Canada was reported between 2020 and 2021 and is expected to persist in 2022 and 2023). This concerning trend is compounded by 25 per cent of new HIV cases originating among youth, who also account for most of the new chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea cases. Additionally, there are still an estimated 10-13 per cent of Canadians living with HIV who are unaware of their status, reinforcing the need for accessible testing.
“It Ends with Us” confronts the stigma surrounding HIV testing, advocates for equal healthcare access, promotes harm reduction, and emphasizes the necessity for culturally sensitive care. Featuring insights from five community leaders representing diverse HIV-affected communities across Canada, the campaign is a united effort to end the HIV epidemic.
“Together, we can be the last generation of Canadians to live through an HIV epidemic,” said CANFAR VP of National Awareness, Roxanne Ma. “It can end with us.”
CANFAR is steadfast in its commitment to leading the bold and immediate action needed to avert HIV as a public health threat beyond 2023. Ahead of World AIDS Day, the organization provides five critical action items for Canadians to pay tribute to those affected by HIV/AIDS: get tested, learn about HIV, challenge stigma, wear a red ribbon, and donate to your local HIV/AIDS organization.
CANFAR encourages everyone to learn more about the HIV epidemic and how they can contribute, recognizing that each voice has the power to make a genuine difference in the fight to end HIV in Canada.
For more information on CANFAR, including BSE and World AIDS Day, visit canfar.com.
CANFAR is a national, independent charitable organization advancing HIV knowledge and science. Fueled by fundraising, we invest in and foster effective research, build awareness, and cultivate partnerships to share expertise and encourage joint action. We have given over $25 million in grants to HIV/AIDS research projects. Together, these nearly 550 projects have helped achieve breakthroughs in HIV prevention, testing, access to treatment, combatting stigma, and the search for a cure. Every year, we reach over 1 million young people in Canada with vital information through our national youth HIV awareness programs.
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