Sask. HIV infection numbers decline

Saskatchewan's work to reduce the number of HIV infections is seeing results, officials say.

But cases among First Nations are rising

Saskatchewan's work to reduce the number of HIV infections is seeing results, officials say.

According to medical health officer Johnmark Opondo, there were 177 new HIV cases in 2012, a five-per-cent decrease from 2011.

That's despite the fact 28 per cent more tests are being done compared to four years ago.

One explanation is that people who have been diagnosed and treated have a lower risk of passing on the virus, Opondo said.

In Saskatchewan, the rate of new HIV infections has dropped from 19.1 per 100,000 population to 17.2 per 100,000.
That compares to the current Canadian average of 7.4 per 100,000.

Meanwhile, the number of First Nations people with HIV infections is rising, but that's a reflection of more people being diagnosed and treated, Health Canada spokesman Ibrahim Khan said.

"We have seen a dramatic rise of [HIV] positive people that perhaps were not even aware of their status," Kahn said. "So I think when you offer the testing, that means you offer them the care."

As time passes, with more First Nations people being tested and treated, the rate of new infections in their communities should also fall, Kahn said.

Kahn and Opondo were attending the two-day Prairies HIV Conference in Saskatoon.

The joint venture between Saskatchewan and Manitoba, which brings together more than 200 participants, concludes Tuesday.


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