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CUPE is proud to launch a new poster: “Yes, You! HIV/AIDS is a workers’ issue.”  CUPE locals are encouraged to put them up on union bulletin boards, in staff rooms and in union offices to break the stigma of silence and fear surrounding HIV and AIDS.

This poster was originally conceived and promoted by the National Pink Triangle Committee; however, all national equality-seeking committees have identified that HIV and AIDS is an issue that belongs to us all. Researchers and LGBTT activists alike have long known that the HIV virus does not discriminate. AIDS never was simply a “gay disease” – it is a disease that can affect anyone.

It takes a community approach to support those living with HIV and to further prevent the spread of this virus. What some CUPE members may not have turned their minds to is that the workplace is an important place to address HIV and AIDS. For example, health and safety practices need to be updated and universally applied. Employees need access to confidential testing, inclusive and accessible health insurance, as well as a discrimination-free work environment. 

The International Labour Organization recently released the ILO Recommendation Concerning HIV and AIDS and the World of Work in 2010. This comprehensive document, to which Canada is a signatory, outlines the need for collaboration between government, public services and employers. Employees will be safer and better served in the context of a broader public HIV/AIDS strategy. This would include public health services, public education, anonymous testing, treatment, occupational health and safety, adequate workers’ compensation benefits, and so on.

The labour movement’s struggle to protect public services once again goes hand in hand with our struggle for better, safer work environments. HIV and AIDS has become an equality issue that unites so many marginalized groups, such as women, youth, gay and bisexual men, those living in poverty, Aboriginal people, people of colour, and so on – because the stigma surrounding the disease prevents access to discrimination-free health education, prevention, testing and treatment.

The poster is designed for union bulletin boards in the workplace, with its convenient size, eye-catching colours, provocative design and simple message: HIV/AIDS is a workers’ issue. It can act as a reminder to health and safety representatives, stewards, bargaining committees and the rank and file that we all have a role to play in dealing with HIV and AIDS. We invite local unions in all sectors – especially those in frequent and close contact with the public – to put this issue on the top of the agenda and make this poster visible in your workplace.

The poster will sent out in the next general mailing, or you can order it by emailing equality@cupe.ca.