Canadian restaurant to serve food cooked by HIV+ cooks to quell stigma

Located in Toronto, the restaurant called June’s on Tuesday was serving its first meals prepared by HIV-positive cooks to dispel any notion that food preparation can spread the virus.

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: Nov 15, 2017, 16:32 PM IST
Canadian restaurant to serve food cooked by HIV+ cooks to quell stigma
(Representational image)

New Delhi: Despite worldwide awareness campaigns, HIV is a highly stigmatised disease wherein the victim is often isolated and treated like an outcast.

A group of Canadian gourmets, however, plans to change that very perspective and smash all misconceptions regarding HIV transmissions, by opening a pop-up restaurant run entirely by staff infected with the virus.

Located in Toronto, the restaurant called June’s on Tuesday was serving its first meals prepared by HIV-positive cooks to dispel any notion that food preparation can spread the virus.

All the 14 cooks at June's will don quirky aprons printed with messages like “Kiss the HIV+ cook” and “I got HIV from pasta. Said no one ever,” and will be serving customers who prepaid to reserve their tables.

The idea of June’s came in response to a survey last month that found only half of Canadians would eat food prepared by someone with HIV.

The survey was conducted by Casey House, a non-profit that planned the pop-up, or temporary, restaurant, said the group’s head Joanne Simons. Casey House provides health care for people with HIV/AIDS.

HIV is spread when infected fluid enters the bloodstream, but not by sharing food, according to health authorities.

June’s will be open just two days, serving 200 customers who bought reserved tickets for C$125 ($98), Simons said.

The tickets sold out in less than two weeks and, with such strong demand, another restaurant run by HIV-positive staff may be in the offing, she said.

“We’d love to be able to do it in places like New York and San Francisco and London,” Simons told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The menu features such items as northern Thai potato leek soup and ginger-bread tiramisu, she said.

Since 2005, HIV incidence in Canada appears to be declining, according to a 2015 report by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Worldwide, since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more than 70 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and 35 million died, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

(With inputs from Reuters)