Using a harm reduction model that includes education, leadership, outreach, and partnerships, HIV West Yellowhead supports those at risk of, or affected by HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and sexually transmitted blood borne infections.
A world free of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and Sexually Transmitted Blood Borne Infections.
HIV West Yellowhead was formed in the spring of 1988 and was officially called “AIDS: A Positive Coordinated Community Response Society of Jasper”. That name was a result of the diverse community representation on the newly formed board, including the following: Jasper Family and community Support Services, Seton General Hospital, the Jasper National Park Health Unit and Jasper Tourism and Commerce.
The main catalyst for the formation of the society was that a man affected by AIDS decided to return home to Jasper to live out his last days. This syndrome, although becoming common in larger centres, still carried with it a lot of fear and stigma. The main goal of the society at that time was to support people living with HIV and AIDS and to raise awareness about the virus.
In its early beginnings “AIDS Jasper” focused on prevention, education, and promoting positive healthy lifestyles to young people who come to live and work in Jasper during the summer and winter seasons. Early projects of the Society included the “Spread No Evil” workshop, distribution of safer sex packages to new staff, information displays, grocery bag stuffers, condom distribution in the bars, special theatre presentations, the development and distribution of the “Dare to Care” poster and presentations to the British Army (who used to train here every summer until 1995).
The name of the society was changed to “HIV West Yellowhead” in 2004 to better represent the expansion of services and programs to the communities of Hinton, Edson, and Whitecourt. In 2015 we hired a Client Support/Outreach Worker based in Edson to provide one on one services to our clients.
In January of 2016, HIV West Yellowhead moved our head office from Jasper to Hinton to be more centrally located in our region. In June of 2017 we opened a second office in Edson. OPTIONS shares this space with the Yellowhead Emergency Shelter for Women, allowing both regional agencies to have a physical space in Edson while being financially prudent. April of 2018 brought about a change of location within Hinton. Our new offices are located at 107, 103 Government Road. June 1st brought about the addition of a new staff position – Program Support/Outreach Worker.
As of June 1, 2018, HIV West Yellowhead has begun a re-branding process. Over the next few months we will transition to the name OPTIONS, HIV West Yellowhead. Although we will eventually become known as OPTIONS, we will never forget that the existence of our organization is due to the vision of the forward thinking people who recognized the importance of having supports for people who need them.