Zahid Somani graduated as a pharmacist from U of T back in 1993, and immediately started work at a pharmacy in the Village. It was still early days of the AIDS crisis and the Rx cocktails back then were a lot different than they are now. Zahid was witnessing first hand so many of his clients not coming back for their refills.
In 2001 Zahid opened The Village Pharmacy. He stayed in the neighbourhood because he didn’t want to stop helping our family and friends in their own personal battles with HIV/AIDS. The Village Pharmacy, located at 473 Church Street, in the heart of Toronto’s LGBTQ hub, has been serving our poz community for over 18 years.
The Village Pharmacy cultivated a relationship with Toronto PWA back in 2002. “I saw how hard PWA works for the community, and how impactful [PWA] is for my clients.” So many in Toronto’s AIDS community were struggling to gain access to vitamins, so Zahid and his team started their vitamin program. The Village Pharmacy began donating over 400 bottles of Jameson vitamins twice a year to Toronto PWA, dramatically easing clients’ access to essential nutrients. The Village Pharmacy continues the vitamin program to this day through PWA’s food bank.
Zahid is opening a second pharmacy very soon on Yonge street at Wellesley. “I’m sponsoring the Bike Rally to deepen my pharmacy’s relationship with PWA. As HIV treatments get better, I am hoping to bring this to PWA clients.” When asked about what he sees for The Village Pharmacy and Toronto PWA in the future, Zahid says, “I see reduced stigma, so individuals with HIV don’t hesitate to get tested and get on the treatment they need. I see more of my clients and PWA clients living fuller lives.”
You can learn more about the products and services offered by The Village Pharmacy by visiting https://www.thevillagepharmacy.ca/ , and learn more about HIV/AIDS and the progress being made through research and advocacy in Zahid’s frequent blog posts at https://www.pwatoronto.org/blog/