With Saskatchewan continuing to have the highest rate of HIV in the country, the province wants to use education and testing to fight against the stigma of the disease.
A provincial HIV testing day was held on Tuesday. The Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR) held an informational event to discuss the testing methods and show examples of how easy the testing could be done.
Provincial health minister Jim Reiter said he believed the reason people don’t get tested as often as they should is because they overestimate the complexity of the test.
“I think they assume it’s going to be a lot more elaborate process, a situation where you’re waiting a long time for test results,” Reiter said. “It’s a couple minutes and you get your test results right away and we’re encouraging people to do that.”
Last year in the province, there was 160 new cases of HIV being diagnosed, which is an increase of 40 per cent.
“We have also increased the rate of testing as well so that’s certainly part of the reason for the higher rate.”
Reiter said the province does need to do more when it comes to HIV.
“We’ve been funding HIV programs, and we’ve continued to do that, and testing is a huge, huge part of that.”
According to the RQHR, about one in five people who have HIV are unaware of it.