Pucker up, kids. CANFAR wants to see your best smooching selfie to help raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.
Kisses 4 CANFAR is a Canada-wide campaign focused on giving youth the information and tools they need to make responsible sexual decisions and create positive change in the fight against HIV and AIDS. When it comes to sex and drugs, people’s choices can put them at risk of HIV, and some groups may be more at risk than others. HIV infection rates are rising among gay men, particularly young gay men. In Canada, nearly half of all new HIV infections in youth occur among men who have sex with men.
Research shows that stigma and fear are two of the biggest barriers to addressing HIV rates; that’s why Kisses 4 CANFAR wants to ignite conversations about HIV and AIDS, especially prevention and the reduction of stigma. CANFAR works to bridge the gap in education, address myths related to HIV and AIDS, and create a safe space for dialogue. It’s important for everyone to know the facts, to understand what it takes to stop the spread of HIV, and to treat everyone with dignity and respect regardless of their sexual orientation.
Kisses 4 CANFAR has strong support from high schools, as it provides educational materials that augment curriculums that often do not cover HIV-related topics in-depth, let alone homosexuality. Lack of support for gay youth — in addition to confusion about sexuality or self-confidence — makes it difficult for young gay men to negotiate safer sexual practices.
For sexual-health campaigns to be successful among gay youth, they must create a positive environment for all, regardless of sexual experience and orientation. Kisses 4 CANFAR focuses outreach on gay-straight alliances across the country. In schools and on university campuses, Kisses 4 CANFAR aims to build an inclusive campaign about empowerment and loving yourself and others in a safe, responsible and fun way. The campaign also works to reach young gay men specifically through targeted online messaging on blogs with gay readership.
Here are two ways to get involved:
- Spread awareness about HIV and AIDS by sharing facts online and starting conversations with friends. The campaign has ideas for sharing information and pictures online, and provides ideas like the #smoochselfie and #kisses4CANFAR pledge.
- Raising much-needed funds for Canadian HIV and AIDS research. Participants can raise funds by themselves or as part of a team.