Help kiss HIV and AIDS goodbye

The kisses4CANFAR campaign is raising money for AIDS research and George Brown students are getting involved

Louise Boileau, campaigns staff for the Student Association works the Kisses4CANFAR table at St. James campus. Photo: Tina Todaro/The Dialog

Louise Boileau, campaigns staff for the Student Association works the Kisses4CANFAR table at St. James campus. Photo: Tina Todaro/The Dialog

“Kissing HIV and AIDS goodbye.”

That’s the slogan for the Kisses4CANFAR awareness campaign by the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR), that helps fund research projects working towards finding a cure for HIV.

“The focus of CANFAR’s awareness and education efforts has always been on youth. CANFAR sees youth and establishing healthy sexual habits as a key piece of the eradication of HIV and AIDS,” said Andrea Zeelie-Varga, the national programs manager for CANFAR.

Kiss4CANFAR, is a national, youth-empowerment movement that allows both college and university students to engage, raise awareness, and fundraise in creative, meaningful ways, “creating an on-going dialogue about HIV and AIDS, prevention and stigma reduction, all while raising funds for research,” according to CANFAR.

“100 per cent of the funds raised supports Canadian HIV prevention and treatment research,” said Zeelie-Varga. “CANFAR supports research in four main areas of study; basic science, epidemiology, clinical studies, and psycho-social studies, and is a partner in the global Towards an HIV Cure initiative.”

George Brown College (GBC), is one of 13 schools across Canada who have student ambassadors committed to the campaign, according to Zeelie-Varga.

The Student Association’s (SA) Community Action Centre (CAC), having followed-up with the campaign in 2013, CAC co-ordinator Michelle Pettis says that they wanted to strengthen their partnership with CANFAR, and that after launching it the campaign “generated a lot of great questions from the student public who wanted to know more about AIDS and HIV and debunking myths, and everyone really rallying around breaking the stigma.”

With the “enthusiastic appetite” they received from students, Pettis says there was an element of fun that teamed-up with the high energy from the fundraising activities, which sustained the campaign.

This visual and creative campaign allows students to get involved not only by donating but by taking a puckered-up selfie, wearing red lipstick, fake lips, and campaign stickers or pins, and posting it on social media with #smoochselfies and #kisses4CANFAR.

This inclusive campaign is a way for both men and women to get involved in breaking down the stigma associated with the disease, and is important to students like Coty Zachariah, SA campaigns staff, who says, “besides just doing this because it’s the job that we do, I believe it’s an important campaign that not only raises money, but awareness. I think there’s a definite lack of education on HIV and AIDS, and by giving us the opportunity to talk to students, even for a minute, it’s raising awareness.”

The CAC will be running their fundraising campaign from Feb. 1 to Feb. 14 at St. James campus outside the Kings Lounge, but for more information about kisses4CANFAR or to make a donation, students can visit kisses4canfar.com.

#HIV #AIDS display keeps growing. Electric. Showing support for #Kisses4CANFAR #smoochselfie bit.ly/CANFARxoxoxo @sagbc

A photo posted by Community Action Centre SA GBC (@communityactioncentre) on

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Help kiss HIV and AIDS goodbye