“It wasn’t that long ago that I wasn’t allowed to kiss my own grandchildren”

Gran Fury, "Kissing Doesn't Kill bus poster" (1989)
Gran Fury, “Kissing Doesn’t Kill bus poster” (1989)

First Nations and other indigenous communities have been hit particularly hard; more than 70 per cent of the new HIV cases in 2014 were indigenous people.

Danita Wahpoosewyan, an aboriginal woman from Regina, has been living with HIV for 11 years. She said a tremendous amount of work still needs to be done to fight the stigma associated with being HIV-positive.

“It wasn’t that long ago that I wasn’t allowed to kiss my own grandchildren,” Wahpoosewyan told reporters.

She said her entire family has been affected by the disease, which is deadly if left untreated. She said three of her cousins have died from HIV in the last three years. The problems include lack of access to proper care and people’s unwillingness to disclose their diagnosis, she said.

Read More | “Sask. doctors call for emergency response to HIV crisis” | Charles Hamilton | Saskatoon Star Phoenix