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ACO moves forward


ACO moves forward

Khaled Salam, the acting executive director of ACO, is hopeful for the future of this vital community organization. IMAGE 1 OF 1
AIDS Committee of Ottawa is reinvigorated with new blood

After going through a tumultuous period, the AIDS Committee of Ottawa (ACO) has reorganized its board of directors and is busy implementing four strategic directions as part of a five-year plan conceived in 2010. 

Khaled Salam has been ACO's acting executive director since November 2011. Salam is filling in for executive director Kathleen Cummings who is on extended sick leave.

Salam came to ACO in 2003 as a placement student through Algonquin College’s social-work program. After his placement was completed, he acted as ACO’s manager of support services until accepting a promotion to his current post.

Salam says the reshuffling of ACO’s board of directors has been a challenge, yet he’s pleased with the direction the organization is now headed.
“We’re going through a transitional time. Some people are relatively new to their position, so that has definitely been a challenge for us,” he says. “We’ve had changes on many different levels. We still have a few staff members who have been with us for a long time but also a lot of new faces. It’s balanced with an excitement of new energy coming to the organization with new ideas. It feels like a new journey that ACO is on.”
ACO’s vice-chair, Kevin Hatt, says the revised board of directors is now more representative of the populations ACO serves.
“The board has done a good deal of work with membership and tried to develop a closer bond with them,” he says. “I would say the board is the most diverse it’s been in some years. That is a positive sign to the community, that they see themselves reflected in the membership of the board.”
ACO’s board members are working to strengthen and realign their programs and services, raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, enhance ACO's public image and profile, and secure the organization's financial future.
Most of ACO’s funding comes from the AIDS Bureau of Ontario, which falls under the umbrella of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Less than 10 percent of the organization’s funding comes from the City of Ottawa.
Salam says that before 2010, ACO's board members did not feel fundraising was an urgent matter. It wasn’t until ACO’s various stakeholders asked that the organization become more financially independent that the board reconsidered their tactics.

Sources of revenue include the AIDS Walk and private donations, yet Salam says the board is creatively working on future fundraising events.
ACO works with approximately 140 volunteers and is always seeking dedicated individuals who understand and respect the organization’s cause. Salam points out that ACO’s core values include the greater involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS, harm reduction and anti-oppression.

An ideal ACO volunteer would be familiar with social justice issues, would understand how HIV intersects with poverty, racism and homophobia, and would be able to apply this knowledge to assist those living with HIV/AIDS.
While the future for the populations ACO serves looks bright now, this was not the case when ACO was founded in 1985. Salam says the organization has evolved alongside HIV/AIDS to better serve its clients.
“The organization has evolved to respond to the emerging changes in HIV/AIDS. If you look at our organization today, in terms of our staffing, in terms of our funding, in terms of our programs, our services, they are quite different than what they looked like back in 1985,” he says.

“Back in 1985 the response to HIV/AIDS was quite different to what it is now. HIV/AIDS has evolved into a different illness than it was back in 1985, so our services and programs obviously reflect that. In Ottawa, we are the only HIV/AIDS service, so we have many different populations that are impacted by HIV/AIDS that come and access services. The community that we serve has really diversified compared to 1985.”
ACO’s diverse services include everything from social groups catering to the various populations living with HIV/AIDS to complementary therapies. Hatt says that if ACO was not there to support Ottawa’s at-risk populations, their lives would be living nightmares and the health repercussions would be devastating.
“The membership would be very isolated. I don’t even want to imagine a city without the ACO. My primary concern would be the people who are already infected to feel abandoned. The camaraderie they develop enriches all their lives by letting them know they’re not going through this alone, that they’ve got a good support system to help them through, in some cases, their everyday lives.” 
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look into us more
I think Xtra is a great source for info, but MAYBE the writers and researchers may want to dig pas the ed's and board members for better knowledge of what the acctual truth about the ACO. send some one to talk with clients instead of the top ppl (who hides truths) The aco in my view is catering to the favorites and non pha's getting special treatments "AFTER' closing hours.drug users get a slap on the hand when cought using on the premises ( living room, stairwells,etc)Food bank being given to non PHA's all the while the at risk partners of PHA's are NOT welcomed, There has been quite a drop in legitimate members attendance due to the unresponive staff, for safety and health reasons,
The Living Room is supposed to be safe and helpfull place for the community, yet we are constantly ignored by staff when drugs are used and ppl are flopping out all doped up on the sofas,
I am fed up with the shady things going on at the ACO and LTR, by staff,
When the acting ED is breaking the rules for his needs, the others will follow suite.
I volunteer and am quite vocal about issues and am rewarded with less shifts as it seems like , I am being forced to just say f&*k it and quit like so many others have,
Volunteering consists of hauling food, or reception work.
There are currently 6 ppl working reception. REALLY?
I am convinced there must be more a volunteer can do than answer phones,and I believe the staff won't let us get more involved because they are hiding stuff from us and don't want a good thing ruined.
The Living room staff are supposed to be support staff, yet all they do knit, plan picnics, bbq's.etc. they are playing jenga as i am typing this. I am sure the time could be better spent looking, and finding out information for "SUPPORT" to better help the members,
LAZY, SELF SERVING,UNCARING,,is what the $$$ money is spent for
I would recommend that Xtra look further into whats really going on at the A.C.O, LTR, Seeings as your in
re: Non-Poz STRAIGHT guy?
Kyle, it's too bad you won't repent of the sin that gave you AIDS. I like the comment: "If gay people want to compare their struggles with black people's civil rights, then maybe Canada should find 1 million HIV spreading gays to lock up and throw away the key. it'd be just like our southern neighbouring blacks who have been jailed because of their skin colour"
ACO DOES support the criminalization of HIV
Do your research! Look at that which the ACO has signed. I would start at Canadian Aids Legal Network and the "Working Group". Then continue searching. Oh sure we can talk about the matter of degree of criminalization, but support of criminalization of HIV is what the ACO supports, like most ASO's. Also, I have NO intention of getting rid of my sexual desires! Do you follow some sort of primitive barbaric religion? Are you from the ACO?
re: Non-Poz STRAIGHT guy? RE: Puff Piece
Kyle, you have no reason to worry. We don't know if ACO supports HIV criminalization. Maybe you should know something that has helped thousands of people across North America. There are good counsellors who can spiritually guide you. With God, you can be forgiven and get rid of your homosexual sexual desires.

Non-Poz STRAIGHT guy? RE: Puff Piece
Kathy? Is this true? Are you serious? It's as bad as that? This is hopeless. As an HIV POZ GUY why would a I trust this guy? To me as an HIV guy it would seem he would be the first one the government would go to for information to start arresting all HIV for the death camps, (prisons, same thing). The criminalization of HIV is serious business. I know history. This gives me NO confidence. I'm never going near that place. Their (ACO) support of the Criminalization of HIV is obscene, and this straight non-Poz person is to head up the transition? It's all starting to make sense now.
Here's a solution
If gay people want to compare their struggles with black people's civil rights, then maybe Canada should find 1 million HIV spreading gays to lock up and throw away the key. it'd be just like our southern neighbouring blacks who have been jailed because of their skin colour
Puff Piece
What this puff piece neglects to mention is that ACO unionized last year and turn-over in the agency has been at almost 80%! Just pop onto Charity Village to see the job postings continue to come rolling in! Clearly ACO is in trouble and the 'leadership' of a non-poz, straight dude isn't helping reverse the tide.
re: Going Forward?
Xtra keeps removing my comments? why? I merely said it celebrates spreading HIV and how all "poz" people should be put on an island where they can freely sodomize each other, poop on each other, and create all the dungeon raping they want. only thing is they're all "queer", so they won't procreate and they'll eventually go extinct. society would be much better off that way.
Definite disconnect between the aware HIV positive folk and those who claim to be "helping".
Going Forward?
In what fucking universe is this going forward? A non-HIV POZ (if he's poz it maters that he come out as such, you know stigma removal and such?) guy has four directives and not ONE includes full and active or meaningful participation of those with HIV? Fuck core values. He is a living breathing example of a total breech of those "core" values. Going forward? Jesus H. Christ! And the ACO are signed supporters of the Criminalization of HIV! Could you tell me please why you've written this article? What are you trying to sell here? This HATE (I don't care how shiny it is)and discrimination for those with HIV must end. Especially those values promoted in such terrible and offensive articles such as this one. Or perhaps I'm wrong and the writer is simply stupid or developmentally delayed?
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