FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEFebruary 10, 2010
Toronto, ON – One million high school students across Canada will be educating their friends and classmates about HIV/AIDS this week for the annual Have a Heart campaign. Donations collected by students support leading‐edge Canadian HIV/AIDS research through the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR).
"I got involved with my high school’s CANFAR club and the Have a Heart program, because I want to make sure that my classmates understand the risks of HIV and AIDS," said Sarah Feeney, Co‐President of the Northern Secondary School CANFAR Club. "We spend the week before Valentine’s Day raising awareness and funds in the hopes of ending AIDS."
"The entire school gets involved with this campaign – the students at Northern Secondary have been perfecting Have a Heart for almost two decades," said Isi Ingles, Co‐President of the CANFAR Club at Northern. "From a battle of the bands, to peer‐to‐peer education, every student here learns how they can play a part in HIV and AIDS prevention."
Northern Secondary School in Toronto founded the Have a Heart campaign in 1993. Today, more than 1,600 schools in every Canadian province and territory participate by sending their classmates and friends Heart O’ Grams. Each Heart O’ Gram contains an HIV/AIDS educational pamphlet, an optional condom, a pack of gum, and a red ribbon.
Some high schools, including Northern, take extra steps to get students involved with the campaign. In addition to selling Heart O’ Grams, Northern’s CANFAR Club sells breakfast and lunch treats, holds a battle of the bands, sells CANFAR bracelets, and is constructing a large red ribbon full of students’ signatures to raise funds and awareness.
"It’s vital that students are educated about HIV/AIDS early on because prevention is important, and youth must be aware of the facts," said Kerry Whiteside, Executive Director for CANFAR. "We hope that this campaign will empower youth to make healthy, informed choices."
HIV/AIDS and Youth Facts• According to a Public Health Agency of Canada 2007 report, over half of grade 9 and 11 students wrongly believe that there is a vaccine to prevent HIV/AIDS.• 45 per cent of new HIV infections worldwide are youth aged 15 to 24, according to UNAIDS in their 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic.
Have a Heart Facts• Almost 15,000 educational posters are displayed in schools nationwide. The posters are designed by Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) students during an annual design competition.• 6.5 tons of gum are donated by Trident for distribution as part of the Have a Heart program.• Nearly 8000 kilograms of materials were carted off from the CANFAR head office by Canada Post.• Every corner of our country participates in Have a Heart, including the territories: 24 schools in the Northwest Territories, 13 in the Yukon, and 16 in Nunavut.
About CANFARFounded in 1987, the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research raises funds for research into all aspects of HIV and AIDS. The only organization in Canada that operates for the sole purpose of privately funding HIV/AIDS research, CANFAR finances AIDS researchers at educational, hospital and health facilities, research institutes, and established community service organizations across Canada. To date, CANFAR has provided approximately $17 million to HIV/AIDS research projects.Visit www.CANFAR.com for more information.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION:Holly BacchusCanadian Foundation for AIDS ResearchT: 416‐361‐6281