Gowling WLG has embarked on a partnership with the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) in an effort to eliminate HIV stigma and to end Canada's HIV epidemic by leading national strategies to increase prevention, testing, treatment and linkage to care. Led by the firm's Toronto office, this partnership underlines Gowling WLG's ongoing commitment to giving back to the communities in which the firm practises.
HIV stigma can stem from existing prejudices against groups of people most affected by the virus, including gay and bisexual men, racialized people, immigrants, Indigenous people, and injecting drug users. Still, while treatments for HIV have come a long way in recent years, stigma remains a significant challenge and many people living with HIV continue to experience unfair treatment due to their actual or suspected HIV status.
"As an advocate for the LGBTQ2S+ community, I am extremely proud of the firm's partnership with CANFAR," said Warren Cass, founder of OpenHouse Canada, Gowling WLG's network of LGBTQ2S+ employees and allies in its Canadian offices. "Working together, it is my hope that we will make a significant impact in helping to end HIV-related stigma, which is a barrier to ending the HIV-AIDS epidemic, and results in discrimination and negativity towards already-marginalized communities."
As part of the firm's partnership with CANFAR, Gowling WLG will be sponsoring and participating in various CANFAR events during the 2022-23 year. On June 3, 2022, the firm will be a silver sponsor of the 25th edition of AIDSbeat, an epic celebration between some of Toronto's most prominent lawyers and law firms. The event aims to raise funds in support of reducing the number of new HIV cases across the country. Gowling WLG is also a lead sponsor of CANFAR's Pride Brunch taking place on June 26, 2022, with firm members set to march alongside CANFAR in the Toronto Pride Parade that same day.
Though the firm's joint initiative with CANFAR is launching at the beginning of Canada's Pride season, it is important to note that HIV does not discriminate and that it can and does affect people of all genders, races, sexualities, backgrounds and lifestyles. It is not solely an issue for the LGBTQ2S+ community, nor is it the sole responsibility of that community to spread awareness of the issue. It is on all of us to spread HIV awareness all year round.