For health officials at the Saskatoon Tribal Council, there is no better time than now to open a supervised injection site in the Bridge City.
"It is something that we believe to be imperative to be able to look after individuals," said Iva Lafond, who works in program and community development at the Saskatoon Tribal Council.
A Saskatoon committee started looking into the feasibility of opening a supervised injection site in the city late last year.
Lafond said preliminary discussions have now started regarding the proposed supervised injection site and she hopes Saskatoon Tribal Council can take the lead.
The council's health centre already operates a needle exchange program, which Lafond said has been successful since it first began in 2009. But she and others at the council are looking to do more.
"It's a form of harm reduction," she said — especially in the age of fentanyl and carfentanil: two deadly opiods that have killed many across Canada in the last year.
"We've done a lot of research in this area and we would like nothing more than to have this brought forward into Saskatchewan," she said.
Lafond isn't sure when such a centre could open.
Sask. battling high HIV rates
The idea is being developed as Saskatchewan continues its battle with the highest rate of HIV in the country.
And Lafond said health officials don't know how bad the problem really is.
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"We're not testing as much as we need to test," she said. "Without having universal testing at this point in time, we don't really know how many people are affected."
She believes it's step one in coming up with a solution.
"If ... each individual person knows their status then everyone knows how to look after themselves, how to protect themselves in order how to prevent further spread of the illness," said Lafond, one of the speakers and attendees at a First Nations HIV conference that started Monday in Saskatoon.
The United Nations has set a target called 90-90-90, meaning 90 per cent of people at risk would be tested, 90 per cent of those infected would be treated and 90 per cent of those who are infected would be stable.