World AIDS Day flag flying in downtown Windsor

AM800-News-World AIDS Day 1

World AIDS Day is being recognized today in the City of Windsor.

A flag raising ceremony was held Thursday morning with the World AIDS Day flag raised above Charles Clark Square in downtown Windsor.

The World Health Organization has reported a slowing in the decline of new HIV cases, ever since countries focused their limited health care systems on COVID-19.

Michael Brennan, Executive Director of Pozitive Pathways Community Services in Windsor, says we have also plateaued in Windsor-Essex over the past couple of years as cases haven't gone down, but they also haven't gone up.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit recorded 14 cases of HIV in 2019, 20 cases in 2020 and 17 cases in 2021.

Pozitive Pathways provides client advocacy, support, harm reduction, health promotion and education services for people living with, affected by, or at-risk of HIV, Hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted blood borne infections in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit recorded 14 cases of HIV in 2019, 20 cases in 2020 and 17 cases in 2021.

Michael Brennan, Executive Director of Pozitive Pathways Community Services in Windsor, says the last couple of years have been difficult because of COVID.

He says stigma remains on of the largest barriers to care.

"Very important again for our social services and our health systems to be designed in that is culturally competent and allows for that greater accessibility so folks do feel safe in accessing their care, and that the service providers understand what their needs are." says Brennan.

He says he would tell anyone newly diagnosed with AIDS that it is not a death sentence.

"Treatment has come such a long way, not to be overly fearful. The support services here in our community either from our agency or the Tecumseh-Byng Clinic at Windsor Regional Hospital are very supportive for people. We'll help you through that process at the end of the day," adds Brennan.

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Michael Brennan, Executive Director of Pozitive Pathways Community Services in Windsor. Dec. 1, 2022 (Photo by Rusty Thomson)

Dr. Ken Blanchette, CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, says we still have cases in the community but credits efforts by groups like Pozitive Pathways, along with awareness campaigns and needle programs that the health unit has in place with helping to make a difference.

According to the World Health Organization, there is a rising proportion of cases among women and people who inject drugs in Canada, and Indigenous people accounted for nearly one-fifth of new infections in 2020 in Canada.

AIDS has killed roughly 40 million people, including 650,000 in 2021.

 

With files from the Canadian Press