The first meeting/workshop for YSHAC was a baby step into its brighter future. A committee sailing on the backs of volunteers set and prepped for their first training workshop with Megan McGrath, the Wellness and Life-Skills Development Coordinator at ACYR. The focus of the meeting/workshop was to understand the basic crux of what HIV/AIDS is all about and what that entails. After a brief discussion regarding the new updates for YSHAC, the committee was engrossed with learning and finally receiving CORRECT answers for the most misconstrued concepts associated with HIV/AIDS such as, what is the difference between HIV/AIDS? Well, HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus which attacks the white-blood cells in our bodies that create the immune system to fight against various diseases. On the other hand, AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome which is a condition where the person’s immune system has broken completely and is at risk of developing severe illnesses.
We went on to also learn about it’s transmission, such as through unprotected sex, anal sex or oral sex and not through hugging, kissing or shaking hands as some may believe. We discussed how it can be prevented by using the easiest thing available like a condom. New information shared on the table was about PrEP, (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) an HIV medication that can prevent HIV negative people from becoming infected. (For more information on what it is and how to use PrEP, visit http://www.whatisprep.org/ and www.thesexyouwant.ca )
These were the small but very important details that members learned about HIV/AIDS. Following workshops will take a lead from this to further educate committee members so that eventually YSHAC can take this knowledge into the community and share with peers.
By Zahra Rajwani
Zahra is currently a student placement with the AIDS Committee of York Region via the Seneca College Social Service Work program. She is also a committee member of the Youth Sexual Health Action Committee