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Red scarves at the center of Moncton are reporting HIV / AIDS



Bright red shawls blow out in the wind on the columns of lamps, fences and benches in downtown Moncton.

They are free to use but come with HIV / AIDS. Each one has a tag that provides information on the World AIDS Day, which is Saturday.

"We're giving them the right to wear," said Sarah Doiron, a dissonance education teacher at Ensemble, an organization formerly known as AIDS Moncton.

"And basically it's a symbolic red ribbon, so we have to honor the people we've lost to HIV, people with HIV."

The red shawls are tied to the lamp pillars of Victoria Park in Moncton. (Kate Letterick / CBC News)

Doiron said the goal is to spread awareness, get rid of the stigma associated with HIV / AIDS and encourage people to get tested for this virus.

"We want more awareness," she said. "And sometimes people think this is a problem of the past, but we still have to remember that if you do not try, do not you know your status properly?"

Doiron said this year there has been an increase in HIV, a virus that causes AIDS.

Each scarf has a tag that provides more information about World AIDS Day. (Kate Letterick / CBC News)

In September, Horizon Health invited people to test for sexually transmitted diseases as a result of a 175% increase in reported cases of HIV in the Fredericton and Oromocto regions.

Dr. Na-Koshie Lamptey, regional health doctor at Fredericton, said that since January, 16 new HIV reports have been reported in New Brunswick, twice the number that the department would normally expect per year.

"If you get tested, then you know your results, and if you need to heal or not, you can protect yourself and others to prevent the spread of HIV," she said.

Abbi Ryder, a community field worker for Ensemble, put together scarves around the center on Friday.

Abbi Ryder, a community worker with Ensemble, said she would like to see the end of the stigma associated with HIV / AIDS. (Kate Letterick / CBC News)

"There are many stigmas associated with HIV and people living with HIV," she said. "There are lots of stigma to the clients I've served through a needle distribution service."

Injecting drug users – service clients – are often suspected of being HIV and "it's not an exact claim," she said.

Ryder hopes that people who see scarves will be inspired to ask questions.

"Even if they see a red scarf and may not understand, it may encourage them to call us and ask questions."

Other red shawls are tied along the columns on the main street in downtown Moncton. (Kate Letterick / CBC News)

All scarves were donated and some were made by hand.

"I really hope that people really come to look at the cards, get the information they are on the card, maybe go home and do some research on HIV and transmission and call, find out your own condition – such things as it is not so stigmatized, "Ryder said.

She would like people to remember the World AIDS Day all year long.

"People are all people, and just because they have HIV does not mean you have to stay away from them."


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