At the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, the war against the virus causing the disease is marked by a significant increase in the number of infections in Nova Scotia.
At the end of November there were 25 new cases of HIV infection in the province. There were 15 people in 2017.
The concern among public health workers is that undiagnosed infections are spreading among some vulnerable people in Halifax – among people using injection drugs.
The other primary group affected is men who have sex with men.
According to the World Health Organization, one in four people with HIV does not know what they have. Considering a fatal disease, AIDS can be cured, but it can be a chronic condition.
But it can also be largely avoided.
Test results in place
On World Aids Day, a pop-up clinic testing people for HIV and Hepatitis C was carried out on Mainline, Halifax's needle exchange.
An infectious disease specialist, Dr. Lisa Barrett did the tests. 15 out of 20 customers who went to Mainline agreed to be tested. The finger prick test results in a few minutes.
Although the test would mean giving up Saturday morning, Barrett said it was necessary.
"We just don't want to wait," he said. "We know this pandemic can't wait."
All tests were negative, but the information was shared with customers about PrEP, a pre-exposure phthalaxis, because the information was the HIV prevention drug.
Ten people have Pharmacare approval
Since July, the PrEP, which cost $ 260 a month, was available under the Pharmacare insurance for low-income Nova Scotians.
However, Matt Numer, a health promotion assistant at Dalhousie University and head of the PrEP action committee, said the province should provide preventive drugs to all Nova Scotians in need of universal coverage.
A Ministry of Health spokesman said that in mid-October, 10 patients received Pharmacare's approval for PrEP.
However, Numer said more people need medication but cannot afford it. Estimate that between 200-500 people.
Universal coverage in Western provinces
Provides universal coverage in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Numer predicted that a patient's life-long health expenses would be $ 1.3 million. The provision of the drug, said the cases were raised and people are financially and socially responsible at a time when the drug is requested.
”This points out that something is going to continue and we really have to answer that,“ he said.
On Thursday, Health Minister Randy Delorey said he added that in cases of HIV infection, "we're still concerned".
The ministry said that PrEP is talking to groups on how Pharmacare coverage is under way, and looking at other opportunities to support loss reduction and reduce the likelihood of transmission.
Numer said that there are a large number of consultations and is now trying to take action. Numer, "We already know the answers we are wasting our money counseling," he said.