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Knowing your status, education key to fighting AIDS, experts say

From CBC Nova Scotia

One out of 10 people living with HIV, around 7,000 people, don’t know they have the virus, according to Dave Miller of REACH Nexus, a national research group that deals with sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections.

Miller, who is based in Nova Scotia, attended the International AIDS conference that wrapped up earlier this month in Montreal. 

It was the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that people working in the field of HIV were able to meet in person at the conference. 

Miller told Jeff Douglas, host of CBC’s Mainstreet in Halifax, that the conference was a great opportunity to hear about the latest research and science around HIV and for people living with HIV to have their voices heard.

Federal funding for self-testing

During the conference, Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced $17.9 million to expand HIV testing in Canada.

Duclos said $8 million of the total would go toward purchasing and distributing HIV self-testing kits.

Sean Rourke, a scientist with the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, who also attended the conference, told Mainstreet in Halifaxthe investment was a game changer on many levels. 

It’s working with people like Dave, and being on the front lines, where we need to really just let people know about what’s possible, who are not coming forward for testing,” Rourke said.

This offers them an alternative, an option to get a test and really, positive or negative, get people connected to the care they need in their community.”

In terms of the Atlantic region, Miller said the I’m ready to know program, a national initiative that connects people with  HIV self-testing, is working to educate communities about HIV and the importance of testing. 

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