It’s no secret that there is a huge stigma against those infected with HIV, but how much information do we really lack about the disease as a whole? A pop-up restaurant in Toronto, Canada called June’s HIV+ Eatery, decided to put an end to the uneducated misrepresentation of HIV by opening the world’s first eatery, staffed by all HIV positive chefs. That’s right; each employee is in fact infected with the disease. The restaurant’s goal is to show people that HIV is not as easily transmitted as some may think, especially not through food.
“For many people living with HIV, it’s the stigma that hurts the most. 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,” stated in the press release.
The staff consists of 14 chefs who wore aprons with bold phrases like “judge the cooking, not the cook”, “think you can get HIV from food? Bite me” and “I got HIV from pasta. Said no one.” Thanks to Toronto’s specialty HIV and AIDS hospital, Casey’s House; June was able to have their grand opening on November 7 and November 8 with sold out seats both nights. Each seat cost $125 which included a four- course dinner. The idea for this pop-up restaurant came after a recent study found that half of Canadians said, “They wouldn’t knowingly eat or share food prepared by someone who is HIV positive.”
“The most common misconception about this disease is that many believe it can be transmitted through skin-to-skin touch, saliva, or by sharing glasses or cutlery.” Joanne Simons, CEO of Casey House said. “The numbers are kind of staggering, but it wasn’t overly surprising. For the clients that Casey House serves, that stigma is very real on a very daily basis.”
This is a very controversial topic, with more people against it then for it. Hopefully this action can actually help educate us all on HIV, and provide more comfort in situations that involve HIV positive and negative patrons.