h e a l t h p r o m o t i o n
World AIDS Day 2011
(click graphic for full poster)
December 1 is recognized as World AIDS Day. In honour of this day, it seems fitting that we reflect upon the people who have lost their lives to this disease, and those who continue to live with it.
By Kimberley A. Burt, Dr. Bayan Missaghi
December 1 is recognized as World
AIDS Day. In honour of this day, it seems fitting that we reflect
upon the people who have lost their lives to this disease, and
those who continue to live with it.
HIV/AIDS first appeared in Canada as a
disease in the gay male population and in people infected through the
However, the face of HIV/AIDS has changed
dramatically over the last 20-30 years.
Canada has had an HIV/AIDS epidemic, and
is presently having several epidemics, occurring in specific
Although men who have sex with men (MSM)
continue to be the population most affected by HIV/AIDS, the disease has
also become a significant public health issue for injecting drug users,
women, Aboriginal peoples, prison inmates, people from countries where
HIV is endemic, as well as those already living with HIV/AIDS.
Risk behaviour data on young Canadians
also show significant potential for HIV transmission among youth.
Canadians view HIV/AIDS as a very serious
issue, but most consider themselves to be personally at very low risk
for contracting HIV infection.
Given that 26% of those infected with HIV
do not know their HIV status, this is of concern, as individuals may be
placing themselves and others at risk by not being tested.
Stigma associated with HIV infection
prevent people from getting tested, and lead to discrimination against
those living with HIV/AIDS.
Stigma and discrimination surrounding
HIV/AIDS remains a significant problem. A national survey found that 44
per cent of Canadians felt that people infected with HIV/AIDS should not
serve the public in positions like dentists or cooks, and 43 per cent
indicated they would feel uncomfortable if their child was attending a
school where another student was known to have HIV/AIDS (HIV/AIDS – An
Attitudinal Survey, 2003).
However, the same survey also showed that
people who knew someone with HIV/AIDS, and those who were more educated
and knowledgeable, tended to be more accepting of individuals with
There is a need for better access to
current and accurate information about HIV/AIDS to reduce stigma, and
subsequently increase HIV testing rates, reduce HIV transmission, and
improve quality of life to those living with HIV/AIDS.
Canadians indicate that they would prefer
to receive information about HIV/AIDS from health care professionals
rather than from the media or in school, though few actually receive
their information from their doctors.
In 2009, a joint committee of Eastern
Health (EH) St John’s, NL and the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and
Labrador (ACNL) was established.
Members of this committee from Eastern
Health include the provincial HIV program physician, nurse practitioner,
clinical pharmacist and social worker, as well as the communicable
disease control nurse, and program and divisional managers.
Representatives from ACNL include the executive director, outreach
coordinator, program coordinator and a person living with HIV (PHA). We
formulated a mandate to improve communication regarding issues relating
to access to care for PHAs, and to develop an education strategy.
As a result of our education strategy
planning, we have determined that there is a need for better access
to current and accurate information about HIV/AIDS to reduce stigma,
and subsequently increase HIV testing rates, reduce HIV transmission,
and improve quality of life to those living with HIV/AIDS. The outcome
of the joint EH-ACNL committee is very positive and has initiated a
coordinated effort of conference planning.
With this background in mind, a daylong
conference for healthcare professionals is planned for Thursday December
1st, 2011, which is World AIDS Day, at the HSC auditorium.
The theme for the conference is: You
and your patient —beyond HIV: a multi-disciplinary conference for
The topics being presented at this
conference will be informative and focus on making the health care
provider knowledgeable in current HIV treatment and care today.
Varied disciplines will provide valuable
information on HIV infection/transmission and infection control,
managing co-morbid care-primary health care issues,
testing/counseling/ongoing care, treatment guidelines up-dates, stigma
and healthcare delivery and psychosocial issues in HIV.
It promises to be a very knowledgeable and
important conference for healthcare workers, and we are very excited to
be able to deliver this.
So please mark your calendars, and join us
December 1, 2011 in St John’s, HSC.
For more information please visit the
World AIDS Day
2011 page on the Memorial University website.
HIV/AIDS in Canada
• Canada had its first diagnosis
of AIDS in 1981
• The first death attributed to
AIDS in Canada was in 1983
• Approximately 21,000 people have
died as a result of infection with HIV/AIDS in Canada
• Rates of HIV infection are on
the rise in Canada, with over 65 000 Canadians estimated to be
living with HIV/AIDS in 2008
• National estimates suggest that
as many as 26% of those infected with HIV are still unaware of
HIV/AIDS in NL
• In NL, there has been a steady
increase in the number of new infections diagnosed, from two per
year (2006) to seven per year (2010)
• The total number of patients with
HIV infection who are currently receiving care is approximately 135
• Provincial HIV testing rates have
increased from 25.04/1000 people (2006) to 28.61/1000 people (2009)
The Status of HIV/AIDS Education in Canada’s Public Education Sector
© Canadian AIDS Society. Published 03/09/2011. Updated 03/24/2011.
HIV in Canada: Trends and Issues that Affect HIV Prevention, Care,
Treatment and Support (PDF).
Council of Ministers of Education, Canada.
Canadian Youth, Sexual Health, and HIV/AIDS Study, 2003
EKOS Research Associates INC.
HIV/AIDS – An Attitudinal Survey: Final Report, 2003.
Public Health Agency of Canada.
HIV/AIDS Epi Updates, July 2010, Surveillance and Risk Assessment
Division, Centre for Communicable Diseases and Infection Control, Public
Health Agency of Canada, 2010.
Kimberley A. Burt , RN, NP, is a
Provincial Immunodeficiency Nurse Practitioner and Dr. Bayan Missaghi,
MD, is assistant professor, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University and
medical director of Eastern Health’s HIV Clinic.