The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses met on Wednesday and Thursday in Moose Jaw for their annual general meeting, to discuss the year that what, and what the future holds in store.
A major topic of conversation on Thursday however was the drastic rise of HIV and AIDS in the province. Saskatchewan has 2 times the national average, and has seen an 800% increase in the virus in some areas since 2016.
While there is still no cure for HIV or Aids, medical advances have helped us be able to control it, and most people infected and diagnosed can live a happy and normal life with the help of a doctor, regular blood work, and daily medication.
The stigma around HIV and AIDS however is what seems to be one of the biggest issues, as most people are embarrassed or afraid to get tested in fear that they might have it. The goal of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) over the coming months is to shine a more positive light on it and let residents know that if you do have it and are tested, it is no longer the death sentence it once was.
Tracy Zambory, Union President of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses;
“Registered nurses from our membership are working very positively in their community and on reserves to change the stigma to tell people that you can live a long life with HIV. Medications have become easier. You take one pill a day”
Another major issue that faces the provinces health care system when it comes to the epidemic, is the lack of registered nurses and clinics in rural, poverty stricken communities. They addressed the issue and are hoping to expand their presence and make it more accessible for everyone, no matter where you live. But…they cant help if you don’t get tested;
“(We want to) Keep the public discourse going so we can increase the number of people who get tested for HIV. We talked about HIV testing day, June 27, lets make sure people are getting out and getting tested. It takes 2 minutes. Its a poke at the tip of the finger”.
A major boost was donated to help with the cause however, as SUN presented a donation of $53,900 to assist people and families living with HIV and AIDS. The donation was split in half with AIDS Programs South Saskatchewan, and AIDS Saskatoon.
“I think we’re finally being able to shine a positive spotlight on it, on how we can work together to actually bring positive change to these communities. To help them understand that its not a death sentence” Zambory said, “People don’t need to feel ashamed because they have HIV. There’s a way to treat it, they can live a normal and happy life.”
As mentioned prior, June 27 is HIV testing day. A day where everyone and anyone is encouraged to get tested. It takes 2 minutes and can save your life.
To watch the documentary “On The Front Lines of the HIV Crisis”, a short film created in Saskatchewan by Wavelength Entertainment to spotlight the massive increase in the virus in Saskatchewan, click here
Written by Blaise Wozniak