Public urged to join in awareness of HIV/AIDS

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November 27, 2014 9:10 AM

Monday, Dec. 1, 2014 is World AIDS Day. It also marks the start of
Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week Dec. 1 - 5, 2014.

Prairie North Health Region (PNHR) is taking this opportunity to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS and to help reduce the stigma associated with the disease.

PNHR HIV strategy co-coordinator Merle Ramshaw said World AIDS Day and Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week are the perfect times for all people – including citizens of Prairie North – to join in the fight against
HIV/AIDS.

“You can do that by finding out what HIV is and how it’s transmitted,”
said Ramshaw. “Share that knowledge with your family and friends, including youths. Set an example of understanding and respect toward all people, including those with HIV/AIDS. You will help reduce the stigma, discrimination and maltreatment of people in our communities and around the world with HIV/AIDS.”

Ramshaw explains that people living with HIV continue to be pushed and some ultimately retreat to the edges of society. “This fuels
transmission of HIV/AIDS as people with the illness may not receive the care, support, understanding and treatment they need.” Saskatchewan’s HIV Provincial Leadership Team recommends annual testing for HIV/AIDS for individuals who are sexually active and between 13-70 years of age. “Get an HIV test and know your status,” says Ramshaw. “Tests are available at your doctor’s office or at a PNHR Sexual Health Clinic.”

Events and activities are planned throughout Prairie North Health
Region to mark World AIDS Day and Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week:

• Across the region, displays will be set up at primary health care sites and other locations, with baskets of red AIDS awareness/support
ribbons, information pamphlets and posters. Some locations will have
a small supply of condoms as a reminder of one method of preventing
the spread of HIV.

• In Lloydminster during Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week, daily events will occur at the Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre (4602-49 Ave. ). All events are free and open to the public:
– Monday, Dec. 1: Smudging at 10 a.m., followed by an Honour Walk; then noon lunch; and an informational presentation about HIV at 1 p.m. by Carri Girodat, PNHR Outreach Worker.
– Tuesday, Dec. 2: First Nations Elder speaking on Traditional Relationships 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
– Wednesday, Dec. 3: Free Community Soup and Bannock, 12 noon, served by Mayor Rob Saunders and Councillors Lachlan Cummine, Larry Sauer and Linnea Goodhand.
– Thursday, Dec. 4: Presentations by guest speaker Marji, a First
Nations individual living with HIV and Carri Girodat, PNHR
outreach worker, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
– Friday, Dec. 5: Free community pancake breakfast from 9:30 a.m.
– 11 a.m. A candlelight vigil (with battery-operated candles) will begin at the LNFC on Dec. 1 and remain on until the afternoon of Dec. 5. You can join in by lighting smaller battery-operated candles for friends and loved ones.
• Saskatchewan currently has the highest rates of new HIV cases
in Canada, with 17 per 100,000 new cases (Public Health Agency
of Canada, 2012).
• One in four people are unaware that they have HIV.
• About 73,000 people in Canada are living with HIV.

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