This note was sent to Executive Directors of PAN member groups earlier today.
February 3, 2020
Dear PAN member organizations, partners and allied organizations.
On behalf of the board and staff of PAN, it is with great sadness that I acknowledge the announcement from the board of directors of Positive Living BC, that the organization will no longer be providing services as of March 31. (see https://positivelivingbc.org/).
This is a significant loss for people living with HIV (PLHIV), and for our network. Positive Living BC (PLBC) (formerly known as the BC Persons with AIDS Society) was founded in Vancouver in 1986 to create a place and a voice for PLHIV to advocate for their health – indeed, their very survival – and to combat stigma. PLBC exemplified the tenets, the spirit and the power of GIPA and MEPA.
For over three decades, PLBC has been a powerful advocate, fighting for treatment access, raising privacy concerns, addressing income security issues, challenging the criminalization of people living with HIV, and speaking out for prisoners. More recently, they championed the development of the peer navigator program, effectively working to connect the newly diagnosed to care and support. The creation of an on-site community dental clinic was another innovative initiative that was making a real difference in the lives of their members.
Through the decades, thousands of members walked through the doors to access health, wellness and support services and to find community – be it through going on a healing retreat, accessing treatment information, seeing an advocate, going to Polli and Esther’s closet, to pick up the latest issue of Living Positive magazine, or just dropping by for a hair cut, a coffee, or to see a friendly face.
This information regarding their services is excerpted from the post on their website.
- January 30 — Members’ Lounge, Polli and Esther’s Closet, and the Hair Salon close permanently;
- February 3 — all Positive Living BC programs, services and operations are consolidated on the 3rd floor,1101 Seymour Street. Access to the 4th floor is restricted;
- February 3 to March 31 — scheduled activities for members are offered in the 2nd floor meeting room, 1101 Seymour Street (contact Ken Coolen via [email protected] for more info);
- Ongoing — Social drop-ins and free coffee are offered in AIDS Vancouver’s Resource Centre on the 2nd floor, 1101 Seymour Street. Free snacks are offered at Coast Mental Health Resource Centre,1255 Seymour Street (visit http://vancouverfoodnetworks.com/community-meals/ for other venues offering free or low-cost snacks and meals);
- February 12 — the Community Health Fund closes permanently, applicants submit receipts by February 5 for final reimbursement.
- January 30-February 7 — Monthly donors will be contacted with new options for giving and tax receipt information. (end excerpt)
We know that the closure of PLBC – and other PAN members in the past five years – doesn’t mean that HIV is no longer an issue in BC. While HIV infection rates and AIDS cases are at an all time low, people continue to sero-convert. Many PLHIV have challenges accessing treatment and sufficient support and care. Stigma continues to adversely impact PLHIV’s access to health services and their health outcomes. Many PLHIV are now dealing with the impacts of ageing with the disease and a life time of side effects and experiencing age-related illnesses earlier. Housing insecurity for PLHIV who are on fixed incomes is also a growing concern as communities across the entire province are confronted with a crisis of housing affordability. The need for our shared work regarding social justice, funding sustainability and adequate resourcing of a community-based response, continues.
PAN will provide information and updates on changes in services and programs as it becomes available, and we will continue to support our 40-plus member groups and advocate on the behalf of people living with HIV in British Columbia.
Finally, at this time, we are very much thinking of the members, staff, volunteers, and board of the Positive Living BC community as they navigate this difficult transition.
Jennifer (Evin) Jones,
Pacific AIDS Network