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WE’VE COME A LONG WAY

- Health Unit Marks World AIDS Day by Celebrating Progress in Fighting Disease and Urging People to Get Tested -

On the day set aside to mark HIV/AIDS globally, the local Health Unit is celebrating the progress made to date in fighting and treating the illness.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is marking World AIDS Day on December 1 by noting the breakthroughs made over the past three decades. This includes an improved understanding of HIV/AIDS and the development of newer drugs that are more effective, safer, and easier to use.

“World AIDS Day is an important moment to look back at what’s been achieved over the past three decades,” says Joanne Paynter, a Sexual Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit. “That said, there is still more work to be done in the future to ensure that new HIV transmissions in Ontario are rare and people living with HIV will lead long, healthy lives free from stigma and discrimination.”

The Health Unit is encouraging residents in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes to be aware of the risks of HIV. This means taking appropriate precautions to prevent the transmission of HIV, such as practising safe sex and never sharing needles. People should also get tested for HIV if they believe they are at risk. Locally, testing and information on HIV is available by calling the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577. All services are free and confidential.

Referrals to other local support services are also available, including PARN – an agency that provides onsite testing and treatment, as well as support and health promotion for people at risk for HIV in Northumberland County, Haliburton County, City of Kawartha Lakes and Peterborough.

HIV – or Human Immunodeficiency Virus – attacks the body’s immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness that leaves people vulnerable to infections and cancers. When the body can no longer fight infection, HIV progresses to what is known as AIDS (or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

“Testing and treatment for HIV can be a real lifesaver,” Paynter notes. “While there is not yet a cure for HIV, there are medications that – when used consistently and correctly – can allow people to live a healthy life.”

Some ways that HIV can be transmitted include: having unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral) with someone who is HIV positive, sharing needles or equipment for injecting drugs, and using unsterilized needles for tattooing, skin piercing or acupuncture.

For media inquiries, contact:

Joanne Paynter, Sexual Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1236,

or Dylan DeMarsh, Communications Coordinator, PARN, 1-800-361-2895, ext. 208.

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