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Media Release: This World AIDS Day, know your risk to protect yourself and others

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties (December 1, 2020) – December 1 is World AIDS Day. This day is an opportunity, each year, for people world wide to unite in the fight against HIV. On this World AIDS Day, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is encouraging all sexually active individuals to know their risk of transmitting or being exposed to HIV and other STIs. Rates of HIV and syphilis continue to be higher than normal in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, and the region continues to experience a gonorrhea outbreak.

Medical advancements have made it possible for individuals living with HIV to live long and healthy lives. In addition, treatments are available that can reduce the risk of passing HIV on to others or lower one’s chance of getting infected. Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) makes it possible for an individual with HIV to reduce the amount of the virus in their system so it is undetectable. If the virus is undetectable, it can not be spread to others. In addition, individuals who are at risk of exposure to HIV can also take steps to lower their chance of getting infected. Risk of HIV transmission can be lowered by using condoms and/or taking a combination of antiretroviral medications available in a single pill called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

“While ART and PrEP can help improve the quality of life of individuals living with or at risk of HIV, it is important to remember that these treatments do not protect you or your partner from other sexually transmitted infections,” says Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “The best way to protect yourself and your partners from all STIs is to know your status and to wear a condom or use another form of barrier protection.”

To get tested for STIs, visit your health care provider or a walk in clinic. To learn more about your risk of HIV, visit canada.ca. To learn more about all STIs and steps to protect yourself and others, visit hpePublicHealth.ca or call the HPEPH Sexual Health Team at 613-966-5500, extension 243.

Additional support and services are available through HIV/AIDS Regional Services Kingston (HARS) for local individuals living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. For more information, visit hars.ca or call (613) 545-3698.

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Media Contact:
Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist
etubbs@hpeph.ca

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit hpePublicHealth.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

About HIV/AIDS Regional Services Kingston

HIV/AIDS Regional Services provides comprehensive services including education, prevention, and support for people living with, at risk of, or affected by HIV/AIDS. Find out more at hars.ca.

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Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is in Green-Prevent level of the provincial reopening Framework since February 10, 2021.

For details regarding restrictions and precautions applicable to the Green-Prevent level of the province’s reopening Framework, please visit Ontario.ca.

In addition to restrictions outlined by the province, Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH, has implemented a Class 22 Order, which includes additional precautions in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties.

HPEPH will continue to update hpePublicHealth.ca to include information for local businesses and residents. Local business owners/operators who are unable to find answers to their questions on our web page are invited to complete our online inquiry form.

If you are concerned about potential exposure to a positive case of COVID-19, please be reassured that any contacts of a confirmed case will be contacted directly and monitored by public health.

Low-risk and indirect contacts should self monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the time of potential exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop. Low risk contacts do not need to isolate unless symptoms develop, and can continue to attend school/work/daycare while monitoring for symptoms.