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CPHA Offers HIV Information Packages To Canadian Football League Teams

In a hope to create a culture where HIV positive players can fell free to disclose their HIV status without fear of being discriminated against or shunned by their teammates, the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) is offering information packages to all Canadian Football League (CFL) teams//.

The idea is to help educate players about HIV and AIDS and to encourage team management to adopt policies in how to deal with HIV-positive players.

The CPHA, which is a national, independent, not-for-profit, voluntary association representing public health in Canada with links to the international public health community, has taken the action following what it calls misinformation in the wake of the arrest of a Saskatchewan Roughriders player who police say is HIV positive.

Saskatchewan middle linebacker Trevis Smith has been charged with aggravated sexual assault under a section of the Criminal Code that, in part, deals with an HIV-positive person having unprotected sex. Smith is currently free on bail.

The case raised questions over privacy in the workplace, fears some players might have about playing against an HIV-positive opponent and an employer's responsibly for protecting the public.

Elinor Wilson, the association's chief executive officer, said, "There seems to be on the part of the players in this situation a response in terms of concern and worry about HIV-AIDS that is perhaps not warranted. Each team will receive packages that include basic facts about HIV, workplace policy guidelines, HIV and privacy of health information and background information on stigma and discrimination.

Wilson said the same packages would be available to the Canadian National Hockey League teams, the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association or baseball's Toronto Blue Jays if requested.

CFL commissioner Tom Wright said the league welcomes the association's input.

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