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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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Scheduled Maintenance

From November 25 to 27 the HPEPH website will be undergoing regular maintenance. Web pages may be unavailable during this time. Phone lines may also be impacted. We apologize for any inconvenience. The website and phone lines will be running normally on November 28.

COVID-19 VACCINES IN HPEPH

All individuals ≥ 5 yrs of age are eligible to receive a fall COVID-19 bivalent booster dose 6 mo after previous COVID-19 vaccine regardless of the number of booster doses previously received.

Appointments can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

For the most up to date information on current provincial guidelines and advice in case of exposure, visit Ontario.ca/page/public-health-measures-and-advice.

The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.