A New HIV/AIDS Strategy for Nova Scotia

Health (To Jan. 11)/Office of Health Promotion (to May 10, 2005)

December 1, 2003 10:43 AM

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.

-30-

Contact: Michelle Proctor-Simms
         Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS
         902-424-4741
         E-mail: proctom@gov.ns.ca

         Caitlin Rochon
         Office of Health Promotion
         902-424-6527
         E-mail: rochoncn@gov.ns.ca

         Donna Chislett
         Department of Health
         902-424-5025
         E-mail: chisledp@gov.ns.ca

        

njm         December 1, 2003         10:41 A.M.