Ontario nurses shoulder to shoulder with AIDS grandmothers in Africa and the “Give a Day to AIDS” campaign

I have ever so slightly modified a news release from one of my favourite AIDS organizations, The Stephen Lewis Foundation, to highlight how much I love two programs which either support the SLF financially or, in the case of the Grandmothers-to-Grandmothers Campaign, have touched off such a beautiful response of solidarity, friendship and love.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) who, based on my experience in the health-care system are my favourite professionals, will engage in an education campaign to promote awareness among its membership of the national Give a Day to World AIDS campaign (GAD), which directly supports the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s work to ease the pain of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

The GAD campaign is a simple way for Canadians to show solidarity annually on December 1, World AIDS Day, by donating one day’s pay to fight AIDS in Africa. It was started by Jane Philpott, a doctor at Markham Stouffville hospital, and involves hundreds of individuals from the health, legal, education and business sectors.

“I want to congratulate and thank the RNAO for a resolution of such promising international and national importance,” said Stephen Lewis, Chair of the Foundation. “Everyone can contribute whatever they are able – a day’s pay or some other amount – so that African community-based organizations will finally have the resources to confront the virus.”

The RNAO resolution was submitted by the International Nursing Interest Group and was passed at the organization’s annual general meeting this week in Toronto.

“Ontario nurses are aware of the burden our African colleagues carry. We are confident this resolution will help them provide care and comfort for the millions of patients who suffer with HIV/AIDS,” said Valerie Glasgow of the International Nursing Interest Group.

RNAO members also hope to establish a grandmothers group as part of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, launched by the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) last year. This campaign involves over 150 Canadian grandmothers groups who have raised over $800,000 for SLF to assist African grandmothers caring for children orphaned by AIDS.

SLF funds over 100 grassroots initiatives in 14 sub-Saharan African countries, many of which assist health workers. The Wellness Centre for Excellence, for example, is run by the Swaziland Nurses Association and provides counselling, testing and primary care for all HIV-positive health care workers and their families. One in three adults in Swaziland is living with HIV, making it one of the most intense epidemics in the world. For more information, visit www.stephenlewisfoundation.org .

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