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Volunteer chef Guy Bethell, who has been living with HIV for nearly 30 years, poses in front of a photo of some of the aprons the chefs will wear at the restaurant.
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A Canadian charity is hoping to break stereotypes about HIV through a new restaurant where all the staff are HIV-positive.

June’s on Tuesday is a pop-up eatery in Toronto starting a new campaign with the tagline "Break Bread, Smash Stigma"

Casey House, a charity that provides health services for people with HIV/AIDS, ran a survey last month in Canada that indicated only half of people would eat food prepared by a cook with HIV.

“The numbers are kind of staggering, but it wasn’t overly surprising,” Joanne Simons, CEO of Casey House, told the Toronto Star.

“For the clients that Casey House serves, that stigma is very real on a very daily basis," she said. 

Casey House sold pre-paid seats to the eatery which featured staff donning aprons featuring sayings like "I got HIV from pasta. Said no one ever.”

HIV is only spread when infected fluid comes in contact with a non-infected person's bloodstream - not through sharing food, cutlery, or through skin-to-skin contact. 

Around 200 customers were served items like Thai potato leek soup and gingerbread tiramasu, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 

The charity worked with celebrity chef Matt Basile of Toronto's Fidel Gastro restaurant "to work with 14 HIV positive individuals-turned-cooks to develop the menu, train, and cook for patrons," Casey House said in a statement. 

Kenneth Poon, a Casey House client, said in a statement that he was "proud" to be part of the cooks at June's who worked to "boldly break barriers and end the isolation I have felt and others continue to feel."

June's sold out its first run - to the tune of $98 per person - within a matter of a few weeks and there was so much interest, more pop-ups are being considered. 

In fact, Ms Simons told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: “we’d love to be able to do it in places like New York and San Francisco and London." 

She also told the Toronto Star that she hopes projects like the restaurant mean that “if we were to run our stigma survey again in the next few months or years, the results will be much more favourable.”

Source: independent.co.uk

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