The rate of HIV-AIDS in Saskatchewan, particularly in First Nations communities, is so high that the province should declare a public-health state of emergency.
That’s the view of a group of doctors in the province who, on Monday, are issuing a cri de coeur for action
The HIV infection rate in Saskatchewan is 13.8 per 100,000 population, almost double the national average of 7.8 per 100,000.
But the provincewide numbers hide the real problem: On reserves, the infection rate is 64 per 100,000.
Yet, almost everywhere else in the world, infection rates are falling, and death rates are falling even faster thanks to earlier and better treatment.
But in Saskatchewan, once again, the HIV-AIDS death rate is 3.1 per 100,000, four times the national average of 0.7 per cent.
Most troubling of all may be the fact that, last year, three babies were born HIV-positive in Saskatchewan, even though mother-to-child transmission is entirely preventable.
This epidemic seems to be driven by IV drug abuse. It is a situation which has been seen in some rural counties of the US, where heroin and the sharing of needles have caused HIV rates to soar.