AIDS: the fight is not over

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL NEWS - Record Staff

IRIS Es­trie, the lo­cal AIDS aware­ness or­ga­ni­za­tion, took ad­van­tage of World AIDS Day on De­cem­ber 1 to cel­e­brate its 30th an­niver­sary. The or­ga­ni­za­tion used op­por­tu­nity to re­mind peo­ple that the fight is not over. In fact, aware­ness and pre­ven­tion are at the heart of the con­cerns of com­mu­ni­ty­based HIV / AIDS or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to CATIE, a Cana­dian re­source on AIDS and Hepati­tis C in­for­ma­tion, "Un­til five years ago, [...] pub­lic health mes­sages about the risk of sex­ual trans­mis­sion of HIV in the pres­ence of un­de­tectable viral load were still un­clear.” In 2017, sev­eral stud­ies con­firmed that for a per­son whose viral load (amount of virus in the blood) is un­de­tectable (very, very low) the virus is not trans­mis­si­ble. These sci­en­tific break­throughs are chang­ing the way it is now pos­si­ble for a per­son who is fol­low­ing their treat­ment well, to not trans­mit HIV to an Hiv-neg­a­tive per­son.

Ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates by the Pub­lic Health Agency of Canada (2016), ap­prox­i­mately "14 per cent of peo­ple liv­ing with HIV do not know they have it. For a per­son to be treated and to main­tain good health, HIV test­ing is a cru­cial step. As the theme of World AIDS Day this year is "Know your sta­tus! IRIS Es­trie is invit­ing the pop­u­la­tion to take a screen­ing test.

"It's sim­ple, fast, and ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­one,” said Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Clau­dia Pâ­quet. “Screen­ing is the first step in the fight against HIV / AIDS."

In ad­di­tion to screen­ing, the or­ga­ni­za­tion of­fers and en­cour­ages other HIV pre­ven­tion strate­gies such as pre-ex­po­sure pro­phy­laxis (PREP) for Hiv-neg­a­tive peo­ple, adop­tion of safer sex prac­tices, the im­por­tance of treat­ment in HIV, and the reg­u­lar use of con­doms.

IRIS Es­trie or­ga­ni­za­tion rec­og­nizes that more needs to be done to over­come the myths and prej­u­dices as­so­ci­ated with HIV as well as to com­bat the dis­crim­i­na­tion ex­pe­ri­enced by peo­ple liv­ing with this virus.

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