News release

A New HIV/AIDS Strategy for Nova Scotia

A renewed HIV/AIDS Strategy for Nova Scotia will decrease the number of people being infected with HIV and improve services and resources for those who are infected. The strategy was presented to government today, Dec. 1, World AIDS Day.

World AIDS Day ends National AIDS Awareness Week. The theme this year is Stigma and Discrimination. Like HIV and AIDS themselves, stigma and discrimination are universal. Every person living with HIV and AIDS -- as well as their family, friends and health care providers -- have dealt with their destructive effects.

"Stigma and discrimination are the greatest barriers to preventing further infections, providing adequate care, treatment and support; and easing the impacts of HIV and AIDS on individuals and society," said Health Promotion Minister Rodney MacDonald. "A comprehensive prevention strategy will help people to protect themselves so that we can be a healthier, stronger province."

Nova Scotia's Strategy on HIV/AIDS will address stigma and discrimination by addressing the health, social, political, legal and economic realities of HIV/AIDS.

"This strategy will enable a better co-ordinated, more effective response to HIV and AIDS, and we will support the Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS in facilitating healthy public policy to address social and economic environments that enhance people's vulnerability to HIV and AIDS," said Health Minister Angus MacIsaac. "This strategy is another way we're continually improving health services to those who need it most."

The community-based strategy was developed through extensive consultation with stakeholders across the province.

It includes four strategic directions:

  • mobilize integrated action on HIV/AIDS;
  • build a broad research and information sharing strategy;
  • build a co-ordinated approach to prevention and harm reduction and
  • build a co-ordinated approach to care, treatment and support services.

The first stage of implementation will focus on six key recommendations:

  • allocate sufficient and stable funding sources for community-based HIV/AIDS programming;
  • provide co-ordinated care for persons living with HIV/AIDS with mental health, substance use, and/or gambling issues;
  • develop and deliver an awareness campaign to provide the public with information on HIV/AIDS;
  • determine the validity and feasibility of collecting HIV/AIDS surveillance data for African Nova Scotians, Aboriginal people, and new immigrant communities to improve program and services for these populations;
  • develop and implement a comprehensive prevention strategy that includes initiatives to reduce the harm associated with high-risk behaviours and
  • develop a protocol for the support and advocacy for persons living with HIV/AIDS based on the Cancer Care Nova Scotia patient navigation model.

The Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS will co-ordinate the implementation process. Partnerships between government, community and other stakeholders will ensure the success of the strategy.

"We have been a strong participant throughout the development of this strategy and we're looking forward to continuing to build on it," said Robert Allan, executive director of the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia. "There is good work currently being done in the province around HIV and AIDS and this strategy will allow us to focus those efforts and fill identified gaps."

The commission will next establish working groups to develop implementation plans. Those groups will determine what can be accomplished with existing funding and resources, and what new funding is needed.

AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is a disease caused by HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus that attacks the immune system. Between 1983 and 2002, about 273 people in Nova Scotia have been diagnosed with AIDS and another 583 have tested positive for HIV. The actual number of AIDS and HIV cases in the province is difficult to estimate because some people are diagnosed outside of Nova Scotia, or are unaware of their infection, or choose not to be tested.

The strategy summary report is available online at www.gov.ns.ca/health/reports.htm#HIV/AIDS_Strategy or by calling the AIDS Commission at 902-424-5730.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

A renewed Nova Scotia Strategy on H-I-V and AIDS will decrease the number of people being infected and improve services and resources for those who are infected. It was presented to government today (December 1st), World AIDS Day.

Health Promotion Minister Rodney MacDonald said a comprehensive prevention strategy will help people to protect themselves so that we can be a healthier, stronger province.

Health Minister Angus MacIsaac says this strategy is another way we're continually improving health services to those who need it most.

The strategy was developed after extensive consultations across the province. The Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS will co- ordinate the strategy.

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Contact:

Michelle Proctor-Simms
Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS 902-424-4741 E-mail:
Caitlin Rochon
Office of Health Promotion 902-424-6527 E-mail:
Donna Chislett
Department of Health 902-424-5025 E-mail:
njm            December 1, 2003         10:41 A.M.