[Moose Jaw, SK] Today, Saskatchewan’s registered nurses are shining a spotlight on the province’s HIV epidemic with the premiere of a 12-minute documentary to almost 500 delegates at the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses’ (SUN) annual meeting in Moose Jaw.
With a staggering new infections rate of more than two times the Canadian national average and an 800 per cent increase in 2016 in the most severely impacted area, “On the Frontlines of the HIV Crisis” documents the tremendous burden of HIV/AIDS on the province, while offering a message of hope and a path forward from the perspective of those battling the epidemic on the frontlines.
“As registered nurses we wanted to use our voice to bring this critical issue to the forefront of health care discussions because in 2018 Saskatchewan should not be facing an epidemic of such a magnitude,” says SUN President, Tracy Zambory, RN. “With the treatments available today, HIV is entirely controllable, and people can live long, healthy and productive lives. We need to shatter the stigmas and stereotypes associated with HIV, so that people choose to get tested and seek out help; a message we’re hoping viewers will take away from the project.”
From registered nurses, physicians and activists to peer mentors living with HIV, “On the Frontlines of the HIV Crisis” captures the stories of individuals who are making a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the province.
Coinciding with the short film’s release, SUN announced a donation of $53,900, which will be divided equally between AIDS Programs South Saskatchewan (APSS) and AIDS Saskatoon; two provincial organizations providing critical services and supports to individuals, families and communities affected by or living with HIV/AIDS.
“SUN is honoured to support these two incredible organizations who are doing vital work at such a critical time in our province’s history,” says Zambory.
Thirty per cent of proceeds from the sale of necklaces designed specifically for Saskatchewan’s registered nurses through a unique partnership with Hillberg & Berk has been split between the two charities today, with an ongoing commitment to apply the same formula to all future sales.
“From the bottom of our hearts AIDS Saskatoon would like to thank SUN and Hillberg & Berk for their leadership in addressing one of the primary barriers for people living with HIV: stigma,” says Jason Mercredi, Executive Director, AIDS Saskatoon. “The funds will enable us to provide safer sex supplies to over 49 communities in Saskatchewan, and help us further develop our peer programming, which is essential in engaging people living with HIV in health services.”
“At this critical time, we are positively overwhelmed by SUN’s generosity, whose donation will help us continue our life-saving work in HIV client care, education and harm reduction programs,” says Stephanie Milla, Executive Director, APSS. “This donation will fund our client’s practical needs (food, clothing), health services (transportation, education, medication, and nutrition), support (counseling, alternative treatments), housing and referrals to other agencies. It will be instrumental in reducing the spread of HIV through harm reduction programs, condom distribution, and free educational presentations on HIV in schools, universities, community organizations, businesses, and correctional facilities. Much more work is still needed in breaking stigma and getting people tested and we are grateful to be able to increase our efforts in these areas.”
SUN represents more than 10,000 Registered Nurses (RNs), Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs), Registered Nurse (Nurse Practitioner)s (RN (NP)s) and graduates in the province.
View the documentary here: https://www.makingthedifference.ca/hiv_crisis
Lars Murran, SUN Public Relations Officer