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Red scarves blowing in the center of Moncton are sending a message about HIV / AIDS



The bright red mug blows in the breeze on the stand, fences and benches in the center of Moncton.

They are free to take but come with a message about HIV / AIDS. Each has a tag that provides information on the World AIDS Day, which is Saturday.

"We give them the men to carry," said Sarah Doiron, a harm reduction educator at the Ensemble, an organization formerly known as AIDS Moncton.

"And basically it's a symbolic red ribbon, so it's an honor for the people we've lost from HIV, people affected by HIV."

Red scarves are tied to a lamp stand at Victoria Park in Moncton. (Kate Letterick / CBC News)

Doiron said the goal is to spread awareness, tackle stigma associated with HIV / AIDS and encourage people to test for the virus.

"We want it to be more conscious," she said. "And sometimes people think it's the problem of the past, but we still have to keep in mind that if you do not test, you do not know how your status is?"

Doiron said that this year's increase in HIV cases, the virus that causes AIDS, concerns.

Each joke has a tag that gives more information on the World AIDS Day. (Kate Letterick / CBC News)

Horizon Health in September urged people to test for sexually transmitted and bloody illness after 175 percent increase in reported HIV cases in Fredericton and Oromocto.

Dr. Na-Koshie Lamptey, a regional health physician in Fredericton, said that since January 16 new HIV reports in New Brunswick, which is twice the number expected of the department in a year.

"If you're going to test, you know your results and whether you need treatment or you can not protect yourself and others to prevent HIV spreading," she said.

Abbi Ryder, an employee of the ensemble community, tied scarves around the city on Friday.

Abbi Ryder, a community worker with the ensemble, said he would like to see the end of the stigma related to HIV / AIDS. (Kate Letterick / CBC News)

"There are many stigma associated with HIV and people living with HIV," she said. "There is a lot of stigma around the clients I serve through the needle distribution service."

People who inject drugs – service clients – are often suspected of having HIV, and "that's not exactly the statement," she said.

Ryder hopes that people who see scarves will be inspired to ask questions.

"Even if they see a red scarf and do not necessarily understand, it may encourage us to call us and ask questions."

More red scarves are linked to the poles on the main street in downtown Moncton. (Kate Letterick / CBC News)

All scarves are donated and some are hand-made.

"I really hope people will really take the time to look at the cards, get information on the card, go home, and do some research on HIV and transfer, and give us a call, go check, find out your status – such things so it's not so stigmatized, "Ryder said.

He would like people throughout the year to remember the World AIDS Day messages.

"People are all people, and just because they have HIV, that does not mean that you have to stay away from them."


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