REGINA — The Saskatchewan government is apologizing for using a photo of two men to promote World AIDS Day.
The government posted the picture showing the men standing side by side with their heads touching on social media on Tuesday.
An accompanying message said HIV infections were on the rise in Saskatchewan and encouraged people to get tested.
Social media users condemned the government's use of a same-sex couple to talk about HIV as perpetuating the myth of AIDS being a "gay disease."
Saskatchewan struggles with high rates of HIV. Many infections come from injection drug use.
On Wednesday. the government removed the photo and apologized.
"Yesterday, in marking World AIDS Day, government of Saskatchewan social media pages used a photo that stigmatized HIV/AIDS and those that live with the disease. The photo has been deleted, and we unreservedly apologize," it said in a tweet
Health Minister Paul Merriman said he found the message disappointing and planned to reach out to leaders in the LGBTQ community and those who work in harm reduction to personally apologize.
"It was just the wrong image," he said.
"It does stigmatize to a certain extent but I really feel that ... HIV and AIDS cuts across all demographics, all sexual orientation. And again, it was disappointing to see that. It really was."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.
The Canadian Press