Saskatchewan has the highest rate of HIV in the country and this week delegates have come together to address the issue.
Denise Worker, Saskatchewan’s deputy chief medical health officer, used her time at the “Sharing the Wisdom” HIV conference in Saskatoon Tuesday to talk about the importance of getting everyone working toward the same goal.
“The benefit is to listen to the wisdom in the room. The power of the dialogue – I’m very, very excited about that,” Werker said.
During her presentation, Werker highlighted some of the past successes the province is now building on.
“We have improved HIV testing enormously. We have probably improved the earliness with which people are being diagnosed. We have improved access to care,” Werker said.
She also noted the province implemented an infant formula program to protect babies of HIV-positive mothers so the virus is not transmitted during birth.
Werker said, however, Saskatchewan still has challenges ahead.
One of the goals, going forward, is to enhance culturally-appropriate responses for the indigenous population.
Roughly 80 per cent of people newly-diagnosed with HIV infections in 2015 self-identified as Aboriginal.
Another goal is to make services accessible for those living in rural and remote communities.
Last month, a group of Saskatchewan doctors called for the province’s high rates of HIV to be declared a public health emergency.
Injection drug use continues to be the most common risk factor for acquiring HIV.