Until the 1980s, HIV and AIDS were relatively obscure. Then in the early 1980s, as the death toll mounted, organized efforts began to combat the problem in North America.
At first, HIV mostly affected gay men and people infected through blood transfusions.
The face of HIV/AIDS has changed dramatically in Canada over the past quarter century. For example, mother-to-child transmission of HIV has been nearly eliminated in Canada. Although men who have sex with men continue to be most affected by HIV/AIDS in Canada, HIV in Saskatchewan has also become a significant public health issue for injecting drug users, women, Aboriginal peoples, prison inmates, people from countries where HIV is endemic, as well as those already living with HIV/AIDS. Currently, Saskatchewan has the highest rates of HIV in Canada.
To learn more about HIV and Saskatchewan, policies, testing sites, and more, read about Saskatchewan's HIV strategy.
Treatment advances have prolonged and improved the quality of life of many Canadians living with HIV. Canada's blood system has been made as safe as possible from contamination by HIV and other infectious diseases, and steps have been taken to increase public awareness about HIV/AIDS and to tackle social stigma and discrimination around HIV.
AIDS PROGRAMS SOUTH SASKATCHEWAN
AIDS Regina was the eventual result of several concerned citizens forming a peer support group for HIV. At that time, support consisted of an AIDS Hotline and a safe sex education program for gay men.
We were founded by 4 men: Nials Clausson, Jerome Nagel, Don McGuire, and Roger Lagace.
To educate the public about HIV/AIDS and stopping the spread of the virus, AIDS Regina was supported by the arts community and Oscar Wilde & Company, a theatre group in Regina that was the only gay theatre company on the Canadian prairies. Its primary mandate was to produce plays about AIDS and gay issues, as well as other important social and political issues.
Back when we were founded, HIV stigma was at a record high due to the lack of understanding of how HIV was spread. People facing the terrifying reality of AIDS were alone. When people were confined to hospitals to live out their days, our founders snuck in alcohol so they could have one last drink with a friend. AIDS Regina looked past the stigma and was there for them at the end stages of their life.
To this day, AIDS Programs South Saskatchewan continues to provide education, prevention, and support services for the people of Regina and Southern Saskatchewan.