Managing HIV and AIDS rates in Indigenous communities is the focus of a forum in Saskatoon this week.
Part of the focus of the Know Your Status conference, now in its second year, is implementing the United Nations’ “90-90-90” target by 2020.
The plan would see 90 per cent of people living with HIV know their status. Of those who know their status, 90 per cent would be receiving treatment. Of those on treatment, 90 per cent would not be able to transmit the virus.
“We’ll never, never end AIDS without making sure that all of the population will have the right to have access to health,” said Michel Sidibé, the under-secretary-general of the United Nations and executive director of UNAIDS, who is a guest at the forum.
In part of its efforts to combat the disease, the Saskatoon Tribal Council said it hands out 1.4 million clean needles a year at its health centre on 20th Street, helping an estimated 3,600 people.
“A lot of people are still afraid…We always say, it’s not a death sentence anymore,” Tribal Chief Mark Arcand said. “It’s actually preventable, it’s workable, it’s doing it for the right reasons and making sure that everybody has an opportunity to succeed in life.”
The communities of Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation and Big River First Nation are already exceeding the UNAIDS target through community-driven programs, according to the STC.
HIV and AIDS rates in Saskatoon are eleven times the national rate.
According to the STC, almost 80 per cent of new HIV cases are in the Indigenous population.
Author: Albert Delitala