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Joanne SimonsMany years ago, I received a call from a close friend who just found out he was HIV positive. I’ll never forget the fear in his voice and the uncertainty he had about the future. I’ll never forget the shame he felt and the stigma he feared.

HIV/AIDS has changed over the years. It’s no longer a death sentence; there’s hope.

Casey House has evolved from a place where people come to die, to a place where they come to get better. It’s a place where clients are treated without judgement, but with compassion and kindness. It’s a place where people are people first and their HIV/AIDS doesn’t define who they are.

As CEO of Casey House, I’m proud of the work we do, the innovation we push, and the advocacy we fight for. I’m proud that we’re a place that leaves stigma and shame at the door while providing an enhanced model of care for our clients.

But there’s so much more to do.

As treatments improve and clients are able to live longer, they face new complexities that come with aging with HIV/AIDS. Infection rates are climbing within Aboriginal communities and for women, many who are newcomers to Canada. HIV/AIDS is not going away and our clients need us now more than ever.

We are at the forefront of empowering the lives of our clients through compassion and social justice, and will continue find ways to break barriers in meaningful ways. It’s what we have always done, and what we’ll always do.