HIV ‘outbreak’ in N.S. continues to rise as awareness week kicks off – Halifax

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An HIV “outbreak” in Nova Scotia is continuing to increase and Public Health officials say they now have data pointing to what’s causing the surge in cases.

“In looking at the data since July what we found is that the largest number of increases in cases are people who are reporting using injection drugs as their risk factor and they are predominately located in the Halifax area,” Dr. Trevor Arnason said, a public health physician.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia experiencing ‘significant increase’ in newly-diagnosed HIV cases

The number of confirmed HIV cases in the province currently sits at 25, up from 16 this past summer.

The significant increase has triggered an urgency to inform the general public, especially populations who are at higher risk of contracting HIV, about the rising number of confirmed cases.

“It’s [HIV] a sexually transmitted and/or blood-borne infection. We see the highest rates in people who report men who have sex with men as their risk factor but this year we’re seeing people who use injection drugs as a risk factor and that’s primarily through the bloodroot of blood through shared needles or shared injection equipment that results in the transmission of HIV,” Dr. Arnason said.

Calls to further invest in HIV prevention drug 

The rising number of HIV cases has resurfaced the call for the province to provide a drug that is “highly effective” at preventing HIV free of cost to those who are at risk of contracting the infection.

The drug is called HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis [PrEP] and in provinces like British Columbia, it is provided free of charge to people who qualify through physician recommendations.

“This pill could really benefit anybody that might be at risk for HIV. While these other jurisdictions are seeing up to a 50 percent reduction, we’re on track to see a 60 per cent increase this year and what that ends up meaning is we’re paying way more in treatments than we would if we had simply put prevention in place,” Matthew Number said, an assistant professor of health promotion at Dalhousie University and chair of Nova Scotia PrEP Action Committee.

Since the outbreak was flagged by Public Health in July, the provincial government has made PrEP part of the Nova Scotia Formulary, meaning those who qualify for the Nova Scotia Pharmacare Program can receive coverage for the drug.

“This is the first time [PrEP]’s been made available in Nova Scotia so the work is on-going to assess what other steps need to be taken,” provincial Health Minister Randy Delorey said.

Numer argues not everyone qualifies for the Nova Scotia Pharmacare program, leaving those who are vulnerable to HIV even more susceptible to contracting the infection.

“If we want to have any impact on HIV, we need to start with PrEP and we need to do education and awareness,” he said.

WATCH: Ending the stigma of HIV and AIDS






Harm reduction investments

This past year, the province has made significant investments in harm reduction strategies.

Minister Delorey says no decision has been made at this point on providing universal access to PrEP but that conversations are on-going with those on the frontlines of harm reduction to see how the government can improve the response to the HIV outbreak.

“Certainly, it’s a concern to see a spike in this current year but we’re getting the data, we have to understand the data and the circumstances and the populations being impacted so we can identify what steps need to be taken,” Minister Delorey said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Arnason is urging people to get tested for HIV.

“In this current outbreak PrEP is one thing we’re looking at getting better access to but we have to keep in mind that many people are unaware of their diagnosis. So, people knowing their status and getting tested I think will be a very important piece for the current outbreak in Halifax,” he said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Corus Radio London kicks off campaign for drive-thru toy drive – London

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Corus Radio London hopes to get residents in the giving spirit, as Monday marks the official kick-off to the Sixth annual Drive-Thru Toy Drive.

FM96, 1031 Fresh Radio, and Country 104 are looking to collect unwrapped toys, books, and cash donations in support of the Salvation Army Christmas Hamper Program.


READ MORE:
Corus Radio London drive-thru toy drives collects hundreds of toys, $19K for Salvation Army

Donations can be dropped off at the stations’ headquarters at 380 Wellington St. between now and Dec. 14, when the Delta Armouries will be hosting the drive-thru toy drive from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Residents can make their donations that morning without ever leaving their vehicle.

FM96 is collecting toys for all ages, 1031 Fresh Radio is looking for toys for tweens aged 11 to 13, and Country 104 is collecting new books, including colouring books and crayons.

READ MORE: As Christmas hamper distribution nears, London Salvation Army issues plea for more toys

Corus Radio London program director Brad Gibb tells 980 CFPL they also have some unique ways they plan on collecting donations.

“Keep listening because we’ll be doing different things in the community where we’ll be out collecting toys,” he said. “We’ll be collecting toys at the London Knights games at Budweiser Gardens. We have a few tricks up our sleeves. Every year, we try and find different concerts that we have tickets for and we’ll do ‘toys for tickets,’ so we’ll get on one of the radio stations and say, ‘Okay, we’re on the corner of blank and blank for the next hour, if you have a toy, drop it off and you can enter a draw to win a pair of tickets to see whoever.’”

Last year, the drive-thru toy drive collected hundreds of toys and raised $19,000 for the Salvation Army Christmas Hamper Program.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Burning of the Brand kicks off Canada’s largest livestock show in Regina – Regina

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The 48th annual Canadian Western Agribition has officially kicked off in Regina, a show that draws thousands of people from across the globe.

Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame 2018 inductee Gerry Ritz officially kicked off Agribition with this year’s Burning of the Brand, which took place Monday morning.

The Burning of the Brand came with an announcement from the government of Saskatchewan that Canadian Western Agribition will receive up to $500,000 to put towards its work with international buyers and developing markets.

“Our government is committed to investing in essential market growth programs, like the Canadian Western Agribition’s market development program, that helps farmers promote Canadian beef around the world,” said Lawrence MacAulay, federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister.


READ MORE:
Preparation ramps up ahead of Agribition kickoff

“This program will help with beef and livestock market expansion and attract international business, which are both vitally important to the continued growth and prosperity of the Canadian agricultural sector.”

The agreement will see up to $100,000 distributed over five years, beginning in 2018.

Visitors to the Canadian Western Agribition can look forward to a number of events including auctions, workshops, live music and food, all taking place at Evraz Place.

The Agribition show also highlights some of the world’s best beef cattle, horses and sheep.

“We are the best beef show and I’m pretty proud of that. What makes us different is that all the cattle of all the breeds are here at once,” said Bruce Holmquist, Canadian Western Agribition president.


READ MORE:
Record-setting year for Canadian Western Agribition

“There are other shows that might be a touch bigger in the U.S., but they don’t have all the cattle there at once. When you come here you see everything that Agribition has to offer.”

One of the biggest draws to the Canadian Western Agribition is the rodeos, and the Agribition High School Rodeo will get things rolling and is taking place at the Brandt Centre all day Monday.

“When I was little I would always come and watch the rodeo and when I started competing I would wait all year for it,” said Brandy Fettes, Saskatchewan High School Rodeo Association vice-president and a competitor.

“You feel like you’re a professional. You’re competing indoors and the atmosphere is great. It’s really cool.”


READ MORE:
Canadian Western Agribition wraps up in Regina, more than 120,000 in attendance

As for how she is feeling, Fettes says she puts a lot of work into preparing and is looking forward to the challenge.

“Saskatchewan has really tough competition, but I normally just try to stay focused and picture my runs. You always want to have the “perfect run” so I just try to beat my times and don’t think about anybody else’s run,” Fettes said.

Canadian Western Agribition runs until Nov. 24. For a complete schedule of events visit www.agribition.com.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Kettle campaign kicks off in the Central Okanagan – Okanagan

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The Salvation Army kicked off its Kettle Campaign on Thursday morning with music, hot chocolate, and Santa Claus.

The kick-off was held at the Salvation Army Community Life Centre in Kelowna.

It offers a supportive food bank, grief counselling, meal programs and other supports for people in need.


READ MORE:
The Sharing Christmas campaign is back in the Central Okanagan

Money raised during the Kettle Campaign supports Christmas hamper programs as well as programs all year round.

This year, the fundraising goal is $800 thousand dollars.

“By the end of the Christmas season of 2017 we had exceeded that goal, so we’re confident this year we will meet that target,” Darryl Burry, Executive Director of Central Okanagan Ministries said.

The demand for Salvation Army services is growing locally.  Last Christmas there was a 13 per cent increase in people needing hampers over the year before.

“So we’re in the midst now of our registration for our Christmas program and are seeing those numbers continue to climb, so unfortunately we are anticipating that we will have a very busy season,” Burry said.

The agency is asking for volunteers to help man the more than 20 kettles in the area.


READ MORE:
Global Okanagan reporters sing for Salvation Army Kettle Campaign

1500 volunteers are needed to ring bells for over 5000 hours over the next six weeks.

If you can help by volunteering as little as two hours of time, visit kelownasalvationarmy.ca, email kettles@kelsa.ca, or call 250-860-2329 ext. 324.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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