A red ribbon flag was raised today, Nov. 24, to honour those living with HIV and AIDS and those whose lives have been lost.
The flag raising at Province House in Halifax, marked the beginning of HIV/AIDS Awareness Week in Nova Scotia which ends on Dec. 1, the 29th annual World AIDS Day. It is also the first day of Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in Canada.
The global campaign theme – My Health, My Right – focuses on everyone’s right to health regardless of who they are or where they live, and ending AIDS as a public health threat by placing these rights at the centre of global health.
“Much progress has been made towards an AIDS-free Nova Scotia and Canada, but there is still work to be done,” said Brendan Maguire, MLA, Halifax Atlantic, on behalf of Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey. “Nova Scotians continue to face HIV-related discrimination and stigma, and new infections are being diagnosed.”
Among those people and populations with higher rates of HIV/AIDS who are being discriminated against are those who:
— use drugs, especially by injection
— are men who have sex with men
— are incarcerated
— are Indigenous
— are African, Caribbean and black.
“To make progress on the shared goal of ending the AIDS pandemic by 2030, we need to ensure people most at-risk have the knowledge and support they need to protect themselves from HIV and other infections,” says Michelle Proctor-Simms, director, Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS. “Increasing access and uptake of testing, and linking infected people to care and treatment, are essential to preventing further transmission of HIV and related sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that about 20 per cent of the estimated 65,000 Canadians living with HIV in 2014 do not know they are infected.
In 2016, 16 people tested positive for HIV in Nova Scotia. Since testing began in 1983, 842 people have been diagnosed in the province.
The Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS advises government on HIV/AIDS issues and co-ordinates implementing the provincial HIV/AIDS strategy.
For a full schedule of HIV/AIDS Awareness Week and World AIDS Day events across the province, visit www.novascotia.ca/AIDS .