November 29, 2004, VANCOUVER - December 1st is World AIDS Day and The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) says that animal companions can play an important role for those living with HIV and AIDS.


"Pets can reduce the likelihood of people with AIDS suffering from depression," says Al Hickey, Western Regional Director for The Humane Society of Canada (HSC). "A study by researchers at the UCLA School of Public Health found that men with AIDS who had attachments with their pets were less likely to suffer from depression when compared to men with AIDS and who did not have a pet."

The charity's Executive Director, Michael O'Sullivan, whose family shares their lives with a houseful of dogs and cats, points out that pets aren't only beneficial for those with HIV and AIDS, but that they have health benefits for others as well.

"Studies have shown that elderly people who have pets have fewer visits for medical care," says O'Sullivan. Pets also increase the longevity of people who have survived heart attacks and they also have health benefits for people with disabilities. Petting a pet can reduce blood pressure and help with stress too."

"In some cases, pets can increase exposure to infections for people with HIV and AIDS," says O'Sullivan. "However, by taking a few simple precautions, the benefits associated with people with HIV and AIDS having pets far outweigh any risks."

A Few Pet Care Tips for People Living with HIV and AIDS

  • keep pets clean and healthy including scheduling regular veterinary check-ups
  • keep pets well groomed
  • keep pets' sleeping and eating areas clean
  • immediately and properly treat animal scratches
  • wear disposable gloves when cleaning litter boxes or scooping up after pets and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards

"In our time of need, animals offer us a great deal of comfort and support. Unlike people, they never judge us. If you have ever looked into their trusting eyes, listened to the gentle beat of their heart, felt the nuzzle of a cold nose, or been rewarded a gentle purr, then you know exactly what I'm talking about," says O'Sullivan.

CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at via twitter at and on Facebook at:

[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small animals, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. We carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, use a multidisciplinary approach, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres, and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

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