June 18, 2010 08:30 ET

Canadian AIDS Society Calls for Social Justice in HIV: Freedom, Rights, Dignity

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 18, 2010) - The Canadian AIDS Society (CAS) calls for social justice in HIV as people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV/AIDS) assemble to attend the annual PLWHIV/AIDS Forum and the CAS annual general meeting. 

Gerry McConnery, CAS Chair explains, "At its roots, we recognize that HIV/AIDS is a question of human rights and social equity. This year's event focuses on empowering our members and PLWHIV/AIDS to respond to the key human rights issues, including the right to basic needs, access to health care and social services and personal privacy. This is more critical than ever given the increasing gap between the haves and have-nots, increased cases of criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, reduced funding to social programs and continued stigma and discrimination against people who live with HIV/AIDS."

With a special ceremony to be held at Bronson Park at Friday, June 18 at 1:00 pm, CAS will be inviting special guest speakers and attendees to pay tribute to the nation's leaders in social justice and HIV, as well as to those who have improved the quality of life for PLWHIV/AIDS in Canada.

Guest Speakers:

Jeffrey Keller, Chair of the PLWHIV/AIDS Committee on the CAS Board

Monique Doolittle-Romas, Executive Director, Canadian AIDS Society

Paul Dewar, MP for Ottawa Centre

Irene Lindsay, First Nation Elder, representing the Algonquin First Nation Community

Reverend Andrew Jensen, United Church of Canada

That same evening, human rights lawyer and activist Douglas Elliott will address Forum and AGM participants during the evening's AGM Opening Dinner and Awards Ceremony. In his presentation, Our Journey Towards Justice: Living with AIDS, Douglas Elliott will reflect on his 27 years of AIDS activism in the context of this year's theme. He will remind us about the challenges our movement faced in the early years and the tremendous progress that we have made together in the fight for our human rights. Doug believes that living with HIV/AIDS has never been just about survival: it has always been about having the best quality of life possible. Today, we face renewed attacks on our freedom. Doug will explain both the deep roots of these threats and our power to resist these threats – and win. "

Monique Doolittle-Romas, CAS Executive Director, says, "Human rights work is all about active engagement. We couldn't think of anyone better than Doug to encourage participants to know their rights, to speak out for them and to take responsibility by countering stigma and discrimination, denouncing rights violations and acting in solidarity with all people living with HIV/AIDS."

Mr. Elliott's law firm Roy Elliott O'Connor was honoured with the 2009 CAS Corporate Leadership Award and Doug himself was the first recipient of the CAS Individual Leadership Award. He was recently honoured for his work in human rights advocacy with the presentation of a Law Society Medal by the Law Society of Upper Canada. 

This year, CAS presents its Individual Leadership Award to Enrico Mandarino for his dedicated service in the HIV/AIDS community. Monique Doolittle-Romas states, "Each year, the CAS Leadership Award is presented to acknowledge outstanding dedication in advancing the HIV/AIDS movement in Canada and excellence in raising awareness about HIV. This year, we congratulate Enrico Mandarino, who is being recognized for having met this high standard of national leadership."

Bio for Enrico Mandarino

With over 20 years of dedicated service in the field of HIV/AIDS, Enrico Mandarino is a strong advocate, at the community, provincial and national levels, of HIV/AIDS research and access to treatment, as well a champion of strengthening representation of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV/AIDS) in positions of leadership. He is also a role model and mentor for many members of the HIV/AIDS movement.

At Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, Enrico researched several methods for viral load testing in Ontario, which then became standard of care in HIV. He has also played a significant role in establishing access/equity and non-discrimination polices at the AIDS Committee of Toronto, where he volunteered and later worked as Vice Chair. Enrico served on the Canadian Treatment Action Council's Board of Directors and as an Ontario representative. He has also served on the Canadian AIDS Society's Board as an Ontario Director in the role of Secretary and as an apprentice on the Community Advisory Committee of the Canadian HIV Trials Network.

In addition, Enrico's leadership in the movement has seen him appointed to the Ministerial Advisory Council on the Federal Initiative to Address HIV/AIDS in Canada. Most recently, Enrico continued his community HIV work with AIDS service organizations within the pharmaceutical industry.

Enrico is also the researcher and co-author of numerous clinical and public policy abstracts, several of which he also presented at the 14th and 15th International AIDS Conferences.

Canadian AIDS Society

The Canadian AIDS Society is a national coalition of over 120 community-based AIDS organizations from across Canada. Dedicated to strengthening the response to HIV/AIDS across all sectors of society, we also work to enrich the lives of people and communities living with HIV/AIDS. We accomplish this by advocating on behalf of people and communities affected by HIV/AIDS, facilitating the development of programs, services and resources for our member groups, and providing a national framework for community-based participation in Canada's response to AIDS.

Contact Information

  • To arrange for interviews: Canadian AIDS Society
    Tricia Diduch, Communications Consultant
    613-230-3580 ext. 130
    Cel: 613-355-6098