Sexy health includes knowing your HIV status: Don’t hesitate

The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) is partnering with Interior Health on a campaign that aims to destigmatize HIV and AIDS.

Knowing your HIV status is an important part of a healthy sex life and a good relationship.

The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) is partnering with Interior Health on a campaign that aims to destigmatize HIV and AIDS and encourage all First Nations and aboriginal peoples, along with all sexually active adults in the region, to get an HIV test.

The partnership between the two health authorities is part of the My Health Is Sexy campaign, a public awareness campaign launched by Interior Health on World AIDS Day last year to promote HIV testing.

It is estimated that approximately 3,500 people in B.C. are living with HIV but are unaware of their status. The FNHA supports frequent HIV testing for all First Nations and aboriginal people in B.C. to determine their status, and to ensure those living with HIV are engaged with care providers who will help them access and benefit from treatment.

“We are very pleased to partner with FNHA on this phase of the My Health is Sexy campaign. Aboriginal people are disproportionally affected by HIV in many of our communities,” said Dr. Trevor Corneil, chief medical health officer for Interior Health and physician lead for the My Health is Sexy campaign.

“By working together with FNHA and our aboriginal partners we hope to inspire aboriginal people to be proactive by requesting an HIV test and for those who are living with HIV to achieve wellness through treatment.”

A positive HIV result is not what it used to be. Early diagnosis and treatment of HIV can improve overall health, prevent the transmission of HIV to another person, and is available for all at no cost. Although there is no cure for HIV, there are medications that when taken as prescribed will help people live longer, healthier lives.

“Even if you’re in an established relationship, an HIV test is a good chance to check in with your mate, your doctor and yourself. It should be a routine part of your health care,” said Dr. Evan Adams, chief medical officer with the First Nations Health Authority. “It is important that we start the conversation about HIV. First Nations peoples need to know it is preventable and treatable—it starts with talking about it, getting a test and if necessary accessing treatment.”

The FNHA urges health-care providers to take Indigenous Cultural Competency training as an initial step in beginning to deliver culturally safe health services, and to ensure testing, follow up, and treatment is carried out in an effective way. Efforts by health-care practitioners will help to achieve culturally safe and appropriate routine HIV testing, connection to treatment, and retention in care to offer a higher quality of care for First Nations in B.C.

It is equally important that once engaged in care, First Nations and aboriginal peoples are assisted in addressing the barriers that may prevent them from continuing to remain in care. Referrals and access to support services can be a key factor as to whether the person continues on treatment and achieves optimal viral load suppression. Research has shown that an early diagnosis in combination with sustained antiretroviral therapy means HIV-positive people can expect to live up to an additional five-and-a-half decades. In addition, sustained treatment can greatly reduce the likelihood of HIV transmission.

The My Health is Sexy campaign is a part of the province’s Seek and Treat for Optimal Prevention of HIV/AIDS (STOP HIV/AIDS) program. Since Interior Health launched the STOP HIV/AIDS program, testing in the region has increased by 32 per cent. Health outreach nurses are available across the Interior Health region to provide discreet and confidential HIV testing by calling 1-866-778-7736.

Information about HIV, testing, and the My Health Is Sexy campaign is available at www.myhealthissexy.com.

 

Just Posted

Three candidates drop out of Central Okanagan municipal election

Two running for Peachland/OK West trustee and OK East rural director candidate step aside

Ancestral remains uncovered at Fintry to be reburied

Remains found along Shorts Creek in Fintry Provincial Park during flood remediation measures

Okanagan Rail Trail to officially open

Thursday, Sept. 27, 11 a.m., Oyama Boat Launch, Wood Lake; public welcome

Growing Okanagan tech sector hailed in new report

Study shows sector employees 12, 474 workers and is worth $1.67 billion to regional economy

Order of St. John donates $50,000 to JoeAnna’s House project at Kelowna General Hospital

The donation will help build the home-away-from-home for out-of-town families of patients at KGH

Your weekend weather update

Rain continues to move right across the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

Low risk associated with case of pneumococcal disease in the South Okanagan

No identified risk to the public from recent case of pneumococcal disease with associated meningitis

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Most Read