Education remains the best defence against HIV/AIDS
NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York joins community partners and countries around the world in recognizing Annual World AIDS Day on Wednesday, December 1.
World AIDS Day was founded by UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, and is observed every year on December 1. On this day, people around the world honour and commemorate those lost to AIDS and those who continue to live with the effects of HIV/AIDS. It is also a day to mark the achievements made and the work still to be done in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
AIDS is a disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which kills or impairs cells of the immune system and progressively destroys the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers. The term AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) applies to the most advanced stages of an HIV infection. The facts about HIV/AIDS are staggering:
• According to UNAIDS, there are approximately 33.3 million people living with HIV around the world; an increase of approximately 4.7 million since 2001; in 2009, 2.6 million people became newly infected with the virus.
• The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates approximately 65,000 Canadians are currently living with HIV/AIDS and approximately 26 per cent are unaware they are infected
• York Region is not immune to HIV/AIDS; since 1990, approximately 336 persons have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in York Region.
• There has been a 20-per cent increase in HIV testing in 2008, compared to 2003
The increase in testing is possibly due to the rise in community awareness and education and the introduction of HIV Point of Care testing. The HIV Point of Care test is a rapid test available in limited clinic settings, where clients can obtain their HIV results within minutes of being tested. York Region’s Sexual Health Clinics offer the HIV Point of Care testing in all six sexual health clinics located across the Region.
York Region’s Sexual Health Clinics offer a wide range of confidential and non-judgemental services to promote sexual health. Services include sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, anonymous HIV and Point of Care testing, birth control counselling, low cost birth control options and the emergency contraceptive pill, as well as education and counselling on various sexual health issues and referral to other appropriate community resources. Services are available at no cost to York Region residents of all ages, background, lifestyle and sexual orientation. A health card is not required.
HIV prevention practices are an important part of reducing the number of newly infected HIV individuals and minimizing this epidemic. The key ways to prevent the spread of HIV include; safer sex practices to prevent sexual transmission, using clean sterile needles and equipment to prevent blood transmission and prenatal HIV testing and avoiding breastfeeding if HIV positive to prevent maternal transmission. York Region Community and Health Services partners with the AIDS Committee of York Region (ACYR) to provide support and resources to people affected by HIV/AIDS living in York Region. For more information about ACYR events and services contact them toll free at 1-800-243-7717 or visit them online at www.acyr.org
For more information on STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections), testing and the York Region sexual health clinics, please call York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or TTY 1-866-252-9933 or visit www.york.ca/sexualhealth
Clinic hours and locations vary and appointments are required.
For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, please visit www.york.ca
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Community and Health Services, York Region
Phone: 905 830-4444 Ext. 4016 or After-hours Cell: 905 716-9753