Leaders in the health sector and community organizations came together Monday in an effort to promote HIV testing.
On June 18, a week before National HIV Testing Day, leaders with the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority, the Prince Albert Grand Council, the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and the Prince Albert Métis Women’s Association sat down to get tested and encouraged others to do the same.
Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, medical health officer with the Northern Intertribal Health Authority, said leaders took the tests in order to help end the stigma around HIV testing.
“The stigmas that have been associated with HIV have made people not come forward to test," Ndubuka said. "The ones who come forward to test, people see them as being labeled.”
The medical health officer noted leaders taking part in testing showed their commitment to being role models for their communities and leading by example. Ndubuka encouraged everyone to come forward for HIV testing, as it allows the health authority to better gauge the situation in Saskatchewan while getting people who need help the direction they need.
“The more we test, the more we can find cases, but if you don’t test, you can’t find cases,” Ndubuka said. “We want to find people with the disease and provide them with the necessary care and support they need.”
The free test involves taking a small blood sample and mixing it with different solutions to bring about one of the two possible results. In the test tray, a single dot appears for a negative result and a positive result is displayed through two dots.
“Once an individual tests positive, there is that aspect of the counselling as well. The nurse or the physician who is providing that test [will] counsel that particular individual and itemize all the necessary and available supports,” Ndubuka said. “There’s also social support available.”
Treatment is also discussed after a positive test, according to the medical health officer. The test typically takes less than three minutes to complete and appointments are not necessary.
He said the Inter-Tribal Health Authority takes advantage of Treaty Day celebrations or other large gatherings to promote testing within communities as well.
“We go to support the teams on the ground to scale up the testing at those community events,” Ndubuka said.
Ndubuka said anyone who wants to get tested can check with their local clinic.
On Twitter: @BryanEneas
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