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N.S. AIDS coalition calls for more resources as HIV cases increase

Chris Aucoin says he believes more can be done on the province's part to help with testing and prevention of HIV
100622 - aids coalition of nova scotia

The AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia is calling for more testing resources as public health officials reported an increase in HIV cases throughout the province.

Earlier this week, Nova Scotia Health reported 20 to 25 newly diagnosed cases of HIV by the end of August, which is an increase from the 15 and 20 new cases the province usually sees for the entire year. 

Health officials said many of the cases have been traced back to social circles based in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

This prompted public health to urge people who are at increased-risk to get tested for the virus but according Chris Aucoin, executive director of the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia, it's not so simple.

"Going to a general physician, if you have one, lots of people are not comfortable having that conversation and if you don't have a GP, it's even more challenging," said Aucoin.

"There are very few sexual health specific clinics in the province. There's two in Halifax and there used to be a part-time one in Truro for a little while and that's kind of it. So the testing infrastructure has always been less than ideal."

Aucoin believes more can be done on the province's part to help with testing and prevention of HIV, including making PreP more accessible to residents.

Oral PreP for HIV is a pill that has been proven to be very effective at preventing someone who is HIV negative from being infected if exposed to the virus.

But according to Aucoin, it's doesn't come cheap.

"There are many provinces that actually have programs to make this prevention pill available to high-risk populations, like gay men and people who use drugs, at no cost or a very low cost," he said. "But we don't have access to that in Nova Scotia."

For more information on available resources for HIV and testing, people can go to the Nova Scotia Health website.




Chris Halef

About the Author: Chris Halef

Chris is a reporter for HalifaxToday.ca and NEWS 95.7. In 2018, he won the RTDNA Dave Rogers Award for best short feature.
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