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Opening Doors conference helps to broaden the awareness of AIDS.


Eastern Ontario will be holding its eighth annual Opening Doors conference April 6 to 8. The conference, sponsored by the AIDS Bureau and Ontario's minister of Health, is hoping to attract participants from eastern Ontario who are living with HIV/AIDS; family members of people living with HIV/AIDS; caregivers of people living with HIV/AIDS; and health professionals who work with people who live with HIV/AIDS. The three-day event will include a diverse range of workshops and group activities. The location of the conference, the Glen House Resort in Gananoque, Ont., is located 35 km east of Kingston, Ont.

"We have workshops ranging from Women in HIV, workshops on medical treatments being offered to HIV/AIDS patients, workshops that deal with addictions, workshops that deal with trans-gender issues and workshops that deal with care-giver issues. Some of the workshops get very specific. Some are broad. It depends on the audience that we get," said John MacTavish, regional services co-ordinator, HIV/AIDS regional services, Ontario. "The community of Gananoque is a small community of about 3,000 people. There is a resort there that we use during the conference. We take over the whole resort. The conference normally brings in people from all over eastern Ontario," he said.

First held in 1990, the conference has been working to raise the awareness of HIV/AIDS.

"It is called Opening Doors because it originated around the idea of opening up doors to the people who were providing front-line work to HIV/AIDS patients and to the individuals who need the support," said MacTavish. "So opening up doors and getting the awareness of HIV/AIDS out there in the communities is part of the conference," he said.

This year the conference is hoping to see a good turnout and see a lot of new faces.

"Every year, half of the participants at the conference are here for the very first time. So for us it is seeing new faces, opening up information, broadening information and giving individuals the support they need, individuals who are trying to cope with the illness, whether living with it or working in it. That is something we are glad to see each year," said MacTavish. "It is when the conference is filled to capacity and people are coming together and finding the support they need, that is number one," he said.

Last year the conference was well attended. HIV/AIDS networks Ontario is divided into five regions; each year each of the regions hosts an Opening Doors conference. The five regions are the Northern Ontario region, the Southwestern region, the Toronto area region, the Central Ontario region and the one in Gananoque.

"This is a provincial conference. Other regions in Ontario have their own Opening Doors conferences that they hold throughout the year," said MacTavish. "The conference changes from region to region," he said.
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Author:Gladue, Yvonne Irene
Publication:Wind Speaker
Date:Mar 1, 2000
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