AIDS NB finds new ways to provide outreach

    Previous offices for the organizations "AIDS NB." (Submitted: Meaghan Coughlan)

    When AIDS New Brunswick received a no-cause eviction notice to its King Street office in August, Linda Thompson-Brown said it required a “big push” to find somewhere else and do some introspection on how the organization provided services.

    “[The eviction] also gave us an opportunity to actually look at how we are providing the service and looking at accessibility,”  said Thompson-Brown, the group’s executive director.

    AIDS New Brunswick is a non-profit organization focused on education, support and the prevention of sexually transmitted and bloodborne infections and harm reduction that supports safer sex and safer drug use.

    Thompson-Brown said the organization moved its needle exchange program, which provides clean syringes, alcohol pads and vitamin C to avoid the spread of AIDS and other diseases, to outreach only. She noticed the old office had some limitations that the outreach fixed.

    “The office itself [was] at the top of a very steep set of stairs, so it was an issue with accessibility for people who have mobility issues,” she said. “Also, because we were a static office, people needed to come to us, [but] there was limited access to transit.”

    Thompson-Brown said AIDS New Brunswick provides outreach to the north and south sides of Fredericton, noting that it also does deliveries. 

    But she admits the current system should be improved, as it currently only runs on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays on hired vehicles.

    “Ideally, we’d like to have our own van … we’re hoping that we’ll be able to get it at the beginning of the new year,” she said.

    Meaghan Coughlan, education manager at AIDS New Brunswick, oversees education and teaches prevention and harm reduction workshops. She said she misses being downtown as it was centric and had a pharmacy behind the building. 

    Coughlan said AIDS New Brunswick is still settling into its new office on Wilsey Road, which is why she has yet to hold any programs there. 

    “I don’t see it necessarily as a disadvantage because a lot of times I go to places to do workshops as well,” she said. 

    AIDS New Brunswick is currently organizing a candle-lighting event at Charlotte Street Arts Centre for World AIDS Day, which takes place on Dec. 1.

    “[The event will be] followed by a candle lighting where community members are invited to light a candle in memory of someone lost to HIV,” she said.