Knowledge is power. Knowing your HIV status is important for all adults, not just those perceived as high risk. If your health care provider hasn’t talked to you about the importance of being tested regularly, ask about it at your next appointment. The earlier people are tested, diagnosed, engaged in care, and started on treatment, the more effective treatment is in suppressing HIV that is circulating in their body, providing benefits to the patients themselves and reducing the risk of transmitting HIV to others. #knowyourstatus
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, one in five people who are HIV positive are unaware of their status. It is estimated that the 20 per cent of undiagnosed individuals are responsible for more than 50 per cent of all new HIV infections. In Saskatchewan, there were 177 people newly diagnosed with HIV. Saskatchewan’s 2017 diagnosis rate was 2.4 times higher than the 2016 national rate.
“HIV testing is essential for expanding treatment and ensuring that all people living with HIV can lead healthy and productive lives,” says Dr. Johnmark Opondo, Medical Health Officer for the SHA. “We want people to feel comfortable asking about testing in their local health care facility or with their health care provider. An HIV test should be as routine as the blood work you get done at your annual physical. HIV testing is a crucial step to empowering people to make healthy choices about HIV prevention, so they can protect themselves and their loved ones.”
HIV has changed dramatically throughout the years. Treatment options have improved, and side effects of treatment have significantly lessened. Studies have suggested that when someone is on - and adherent to - treatment, their chances of passing on HIV on are dramatically reduced. In certain circumstances, HIV negative people can take medications daily, called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), to prevent the transmission of HIV. Treatment during pregnancy can decrease the chances of transmission to the baby to less than one per cent, and someone living with HIV can have nearly the same life expectancy as someone that is not living with HIV. All of these advancements have helped in the fight the stigma associated with HIV.
There are many events are planned though out Saskatchewan to recognize World AIDS Day and the associated awareness weeks. For a list of events in your area, please visit
Below is a video featuring Dr. Johnmark Opondo speaking to media regarding the importance of knowing your status.