Taking the test: HIV awareness

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Taking the test: HIV awareness

Week one we discussed the positive reasons to take an HIV test. In week two we outlined the barriers to taking an HIV as well as the barriers that concern health care providers when talking with their patients about HIV and taking the test.

In the third installment, we will talk about taking the test. The RQHR peer program mentors have provided us with their thoughts around taking an HIV test and their emotions following a positive result.

Anonymous:  "I got tested in Winnipeg. I was scared and alone and did not have anyone to talk to. Wanted to give up because I thought HIV was a death sentence”.

Danita: “The day I got tested I was in shock receiving the HIV diagnosis. Then what followed after would be the worst years of my life. I tried to commit suicide twice. I gave up. I lost my home. My son. Life was a complete cycle of self-medicating, I lost myself in drugs. That was the hardest. Getting myself out and not looking back. Today is different. I’m different. Life is good now.”

Nelson: “I was tested for TB, but was then referred to a doctor at University Hospital in Edmonton where I was told that I tested positive for HIV. My feeling at the time was I would be dead in five years. But 28 years later I still survive.”

Gloria: ”I was tested 14 years ago and was not even informed that it was for HIV. It was normal, regular blood test which I am always comfortable with. No discomfort what so ever. It came back positive.”

Bernie: “I was in hospital; several tests were done with different results. I was never told what my final outcome was. I was given an appointment at the clinic. I already knew I was positive. The in between the hospital and the appointment was the worst.”

The peers have overcome a lot of struggles since they were diagnosed with HIV but now take part in the RQHR Peer Program. One of the roles of the peer mentors is to use their lived experience to help connect and support those who are newly diagnosed and help them feel that they are not alone.

The peers understand the meaning of HIV is different now and support the message:  Share the Word. Take the test. Make a Difference.

The City of Regina has proclaimed June 27, 2017, Provincial HIV Testing Day. The purpose of the day is to promote and offer HIV testing in RQHR in an effort to support HIV prevention and treatment.

In Regina, a point-of-care testing demonstration with local champions and a question and answer session will take place on the F.W. Hill Mall from noon to 1 p.m. 

Congratulations Laurel Stang

Congratulations and well done Laurel Stang, CD/Sexual Health Program Supervisor at Population and Public Health and along time member of CANAC, who recently received the Canadian Association of Nurses in HIV/AIDS Care (CANAC) Andrew Johnson Award for Exceptional Contribution to HIV/AIDS Nursing.

CANAC is a national professional nursing organization committed to fostering excellence in HIV/AIDS nursing, promoting the health, rights and dignity of persons affected by HIV/AIDS and to preventing the spread of HIV infection. This award was re-named in 2009 in memory of Andrew Johnson, a co-founder and first president of CANAC. The award recognizes the exceptional contribution made by a nurse working in the area of clinical practice, education, research and/or administration to the advancement of Nursing’s role in HIV/AIDS care. Prior to 2009, it was called the “Award of Excellence for Exceptional Contribution to the Development of Nursing in HIV/AIDS Care”.

Strang's win is well deserved. As a nursing colleague and supervisor, Laurel truly enjoys sharing her HIV knowledge and expertise by mentoring nurses and other health professionals to meet clients where they are in life and to provide them with the best care possible. Laurel has had a varied professional nursing practice including a number of HIV-related roles. Her experience includes working with persons of all ages who are living with HIV as well as with persons who engage in behaviors that heighten the risk of contracting HIV. You may have recently met Laurel teaching nurses to provide HIV point of care (POC) testing or passionately explaining harm reduction.

Please join Laurel in working toward reducing the number of persons becoming infected with HIV. She will be on site at the Scarth Street Mall on June 27 to demonstrate HIV point-of-care testing as a part of the RQHR activities planned for the first Saskatchewan HIV Testing Day .  

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