We’ve come a long way in terms of understanding around HIV but there’s still a good dose of stigma attached to the condition.
Some people still believe that it’s an illness exclusive to the LGBT community and there are those who continue to insist that it’s contagious via means other than unprotected sex. So imagine the numbers who probably think you’d be at risk from eating food prepared by an HIV positive person. In fact, according to a survey last month, only half of participants said they’d willingly consume food made by someone with HIV. Which is why a Canadian pop-up restaurant has set up shop to help #SmashStigma.
Casey House is a speciality HIV/AIDS hospital in Toronto and they’ve just launched a restaurant which exclusively employs staff who are HIV positive. Over two days, June’s Eatery has been serving four-course dinners for $125 to 200 customers, in a bid to ‘Break Bread, Smash Stigma’. All 14 members of staff have HIV and the space has been decorated with various outlandish slogans such as ‘I got HIV from pasta. Said no one ever’, and ‘Remember when people thought they could get HIV from toilet seats? LOL.’
‘For many people living with HIV, it’s the stigma that hurts the most,’ the restaurant says in a statement. ‘June’s HIV+ Eatery is an opportunity to fight stigma with every bite. To come together in a show of love, support and acceptance, and to dispel the myths about HIV that condemn so many to suffer in silence.’
And, according to Joanne Simons, head of Casey House, there are plans for more pop-ups. ‘We’d love to be able to do it in places like New York and San Francisco and London,’ she tells out.com.