Saskatchewan has the highest rates of diagnosed HIV in Canada. Some areas have seen an increase of 800%. Registered nurses in these areas are crucial in diagnosing, treating, and educating people with HIV/AIDS.
“HIV is at crisis levels in Saskatchewan and the number of new cases is still rising. There are some areas in particular that are really seeing HIV at epidemic levels.” - Dr. Megan Clark, Family Physician
The nature of the HIV crisis in Saskatchewan has changed from 10 years ago. We are now seeing infection rates rise outside of cities, in areas where access to care is more difficult. And, tragically, young people are disproportionately impacted: HIV was most common among males aged 30-39, and women aged 20-29.
HIV is a chronic illness, which means while it can’t be cured, it can be controlled with medication. However, many people don’t get tested because they still believe that HIV is a death sentence, and fear prevents them from reaching out. Over 75,000 HIV tests were administered in Saskatchewan in 2016, however many people remain unaware they’re infected.
Registered nurses are on the frontline of this crisis. Their role is a crucial one that begins with trust-building, and education. Early diagnosis of the virus is the primary way to prevent transmission and provide treatment, and so registered nurses play a role in reaching out with testing.