Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Sees Spike in Newly Diagnosed HIV Cases: Health Authority

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Sees Spike in Newly Diagnosed HIV Cases: Health Authority

Article excerpt

N.S. HIV cases double so far this year


HALIFAX - Nova Scotia has posted a significant increase in the number of new HIV infections so far this year, prompting the province's Health Department to issue an urgent advisory warning doctors and nurses of the sudden spike in cases of the communicable disease.

In the first six months of 2018, the province recorded approximately 16 new cases of HIV -- a number usually seen over the course of a year.

"The concern is that we've already reached what we'd expect for an entire year after six months," Dr. Trevor Arnason, medical officer of health with the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said in an interview Thursday.

"We're heading towards a doubling of the number of reports over the year."

It's unclear what has caused the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases to rise, though Arnason said it appears certain individuals acquired HIV in the "very recent past."

"We're trying to make health care providers aware that we're seeing more cases and they should look for the signs and symptoms and get people tested," he said.

The advisory sent to doctors and nurses last week said up to 90 per cent of people infected with HIV will develop a fever within four to eight weeks after exposure to the virus.

It said the most commonly reported risk factors were men who have sex with men or people who inject drugs.

HIV -- the Human Immunodeficiency Virus -- is a blood-borne disease that can be spread through sexual activity or by sharing a needle. It can eventually lead to AIDS.

It was once considered a death sentence, but there are now treatments that can greatly reduce the virus.

Dena Simon, executive director of the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia, said younger generations that didn't experience the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s may not understand the potential severity of the disease.

"Managing HIV now is a very different scenario than it was back then," she said. "Today, it's a chronic, manageable disease and you can have pretty much a normal life. …

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