Sexual health groups call for more testing as N.S. HIV cases increase


Sexual well being organizations in Halifax are calling for extra testing sources after Nova Scotia public well being reported a rise in newly identified HIV instances within the province.

In a information launch on Monday, public well being stated they usually see 15 to twenty new instances of HIV per 12 months, however this 12 months they’ve already recorded 20 to 25 new instances as of the tip of August.

They stated they’ve noticed most new instances to be coming from social circles within the Halifax Regional Municipality, however there are nonetheless instances exhibiting up all through the province. 

Catherine Brown, medical officer of well being for the central zone, stated the uptick in instances is partly as a consequence of fewer individuals being examined throughout the first two years of the pandemic. Many labs usually used to course of HIV assessments have been diverted to give attention to COVID-19 testing.

Even making an allowance for the backlog from the final two years, Brown stated they’re nonetheless noticing an irregular enhance of instances.

“The timing of this enhance coincides with the lifting of public well being measures for COVID-19 when people are seemingly having extra social interactions within the spring and the summer season,” stated Brown.

The division is urging individuals to get examined if they’re in an increased-risk group. Nonetheless, entry to testing is inadequate based on some Halifax sexual well being organizations.

“Even earlier than COVID, sexual well being testing infrastructure on this province was insufficient,” stated Chris Aucoin, govt director of the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia.

Chris Aucoin is the chief director of the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia. He stated the province must do extra to enhance prevention and testing of HIV. (Submitted by Chris Aucoin)

He stated testing is vital to addressing HIV, as individuals can typically cross it on with out figuring out that they had it within the first place. Nonetheless, he stated testing capability in Nova Scotia has lengthy been overburdened.

“Each time there is a little bit of a mud up like this, you understand, alarm bells go up, however nothing modifications by way of the system that might assist stop that from occurring sooner or later,” stated Aucoin.

Abbey Ferguson, the chief director of the Halifax Sexual Well being Centre, stated her clinic has been overworked for a very long time.

“We very persistently have a particularly excessive request for these assessments, or for all testing actually, that we’re not capable of meet each single month,” stated Ferguson.

Prevention first

Aucoin stated the province could possibly be doing extra to assist stop the unfold of HIV like bettering entry to PreP.

PreP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a tablet that may stop the HIV virus from taking maintain within the physique. Aucoin says many provinces, like P.E.I., have packages in place to scale back the price of PreP for weak populations and even present it without cost.

“It is not only a good thought on paper, and the truth is it is very, very efficient and it is confirmed to be very efficient,” stated Aucoin.

“So we’d undoubtedly prefer to see Nova Scotia lastly, you understand, step as much as that desk and make that occur right here as nicely.”

Brown stated public well being is growing entry to testing on the QEII’s STI clinic for people who find themselves at a better threat of contracting HIV, together with males who’ve intercourse with males and people who share drug gear.

She additionally stated public well being is taking a look at extra prevention methods like PreP, contact tracing and making an attempt to enhance public schooling on HIV/AIDS.

The division is encouraging individuals at a better threat to get examined commonly. A full record of threat elements, advisable actions, and useful resource centres is accessible on the Nova Scotia Well being web site.

The AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia additionally has free HIV self-test kits accessible by way of the I am Prepared nationwide analysis mission. 



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