The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations calls on Saskatchewan residents to take time on Saturday, December 1st, World AIDS Day, to educate themselves on the facts about HIV/AIDS.
“Saskatchewan’s First Nation population has the highest rate of infection in Canada. It is really quite startling when you research the impact HIV/AIDS is having on First Nation people, in particular, our First Nation women and young girls,” said FSIN Vice Chief Kimberley Jonathan in a statement. “It’s been more than 40 years that HIV/AIDS started to spread in society and yet despite all the attention the virus has received, the rates continue to grow amongst First Nations."
In a press release, the Federation called the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDs "one of the main contributing factors to increasing rates" of HIV/AIDS. Everyone who is sexually active should get tested, they said. The Fedeartion acknowledged that poverty compounds the problem in many ways, largely due to chronic under-funding. The lack of adequate resources often hinders communities from developping strategies to offer the full spectrum of care necessary to effectively curb the problem of the spread of HIV/AIDS, improve treatment and provide adequate medical and emotional support.
“We need to work in partnership with the Provincial Government to develop a prevention strategy with a cultural component,” said Jonathan. “The Province’s latest statistics indicate the largest HIV increase in the Aboriginal population in the past 10 years. Yes, more people are getting tested but that doesn’t take away from the fact that HIV continues to spread in our communities.”
The FSIN represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. The Federation is committed to honouring the spirit and intent of Treaty, as well as the promotion, protection and implementation of the Treaty promises that were made more than a century ago.