Flin Flon’s favorite explorer statue gets a makeover this week for a good cause.
The Flinty statue has been lit red for several nights ahead of World AIDS Day, which takes place on December 1 – the new color is a collaborative effort of the Play it Safer Network and the city of Flin Flon to bring awareness to HIV / AIDS in the north.
“Raising awareness on World AIDS Day is important because we want to honor those who live in the north with HIV / AIDS. We want to raise awareness of the importance of getting tested and we want to dispel the myth that HIV / AIDS will never happen to us in the North, ”said Christa McIntyre, co-chair of the Play it Safer Network.
More than 1,400 Manitobans have HIV or AIDS, according to the Nine Circle Community Health Center. The province has the second highest proportion of any Canadian province of people testing positive for HIV / AIDS each year, behind Saskatchewan alone.
According to provincial health statistics, 12 people in the Northern Health Region tested positive for HIV or AIDS in 2019. Screening and testing for disease declined significantly from 2018 to 2019, from 2,368 testing in NHR in 2018 to 942 in 2019. Testing also saw a province-wide slowdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, with about 10,000 fewer tests done last year according to Manitoba Health, even if the rate of new cases was about the same. The spread of COVID-19 is probably behind the decrease, while other factors include stigma of being tested or having the disease, lack of knowledge about HIV / AIDS and the risks associated with it and the difficulties of access to the test in certain regions.
“Getting tested is the key. Early diagnosis of HIV prevents HIV from spreading in our communities and starting treatment early means you can live a healthy life, ”said McIntyre.
“The only way to know for sure your HIV status is to get tested. It is impossible to tell from a person’s appearance whether they are infected with HIV, and many people with HIV do not experience any symptoms in the early stages of HIV.