Saskatchewan’s HIV numbers remain highest in Canada

Image: HIV. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Regina/CMEDIA: A record-breaking 237 diagnoses in 2021 with a nearly 30 percent jump from the 184 cases recorded in 2020 were revealed by the latest provincial health data which puts transmission rates at more than double the national average. 

The Ministry of Health data revealed that sexual contact contributed to 68 percent of HIV cases (which is higher than usual for the province), and injection drug use made up 50 percent. These risk factors are not mutually exclusive.

Dr. Johnmark Opondo, a medical health officer on Saskatchewan’s HIV provincial leadership team reportedly said that even a single episode of needle sharing — the primary driver — can be enough to transmit HIV.

Among the key preventative measures that can help contain the province’s HIV numbers, Opondo added are harm reduction services, like safe drug consumption sites.

Kayla DeMong, executive director of Prairie Harm Reduction (PHR) in Saskatoon calls last year’s HIV numbers “heartbreaking,” stressing the need for more facilities like PHR in Saskatchewan and why provincial funding is needed to run them.

Although PHR doesn’t offer drugs to people, it provides a medically-supervised space, checks drugs for laced substances, and helps people get access to sterile equipment and support.

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