HIVAIDS Prevention Still Important Focus in Nova Scotia
HIV and AIDS are still concerns in Nova Scotia, and new infections across Canada are increasing among women ages 15 to 29, especially young aboriginal women. This year, the 21st World AIDS Day will focus on understanding and responding to HIV and AIDS from a human rights perspective. The Nova Scotia campaign will focus on healthy sexuality and preventing HIV/AIDS among youth, particularly girls and young women. “While great strides have been made with prevention and treatment, we need to continually focus on prevention as a new generation of youth become sexually active,” said Larry Baxter, chairman of the Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS. “As well, people still have misinformation and misconceptions about HIV and AIDS.” The Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS and its partners have organized events to celebrate progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS and to raise awareness about the disease. AIDS Awareness Week begins today, Nov. 24, when Maureen MacDonald, Minister of Health, will help launch the week by raising the red ribbon flag in a public ceremony at Province House. A reception at the Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS will follow. The week culminates in a World AIDS Day gathering, Dec. 1, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the Italian Cultural Centre, 2629 Agricola St., Halifax. Targeted mainly at youth, the gathering will feature local and international speakers and youth performances highlighting the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls locally and around the world. The keynote address will be given by Lois Chingandu, executive director, SAfAIDS, Zimbabwe. All are welcome to attend. Winners of a poster contest for ages 12 to 18 will be awarded at the gathering. The poster contest helped make youth, and especially girls, more aware of positive sexual health and HIV/AIDS prevention. Other events across the province include a workshop in Cherry Brook hosted by the Black Cultural Centre and Oxfam on Nov. 30, focusing on gender and women’s rights in the face of HIV/AIDS. Candlelight vigils in remembrance of Nova Scotians who lost their lives to AIDS will take place in Sydney, Amherst, Truro and New Glasgow. A vigil hosted by the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia takes place Dec. 1 at 7 p.m., at the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre in Halifax. Universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, care, treatment, and support is a fundamental part of human rights and vital to reducing the impact of HIV/AIDS in Nova Scotia and around the world. To prevent further spread of HIV and ensure those who are living with HIV/AIDS have care and support, people need to have better access to such things as sexual health and HIV/AIDS information and services, addiction treatment and safe needle exchange services, adequate housing, income support no matter who they are or where they live. The World AIDS Day gathering was planned by the HIV/AIDS Awareness Week Planning Committee for Metro Halifax with representation from local, national, and international non-government organizations, government, community groups and independent volunteers. The Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS was established in 1988 to implement recommendations of the Nova Scotia Task Force on AIDS. The commission co-ordinates the fight against the acquired immune deficiency syndrome and advises the government on AIDS issues and its impact on society.