Canada: Medical Health Officer Says Regina HIV Cluster "Serious" Public Health Issue
April 12, 2006
The Saskatchewan district Regina Qu'Appelle recorded a cluster of six new HIV diagnoses in the last two months, prompting health officials at a news conference on Tuesday to call attention to the serious public health issue.
Last year, Regina reported 15 HIV cases, which is within the city's average annual range of 12-20, said Dr. Maurice Hennink, a deputy medical health officer for the city. However, identifying six cases so early in the year is a troubling surprise, he said. Of the six cases, most are women, four are under age 18, all have ties to IV drug use, and some also performed sex work.
Hennink said more cases may be detected, as authorities are testing people with exposure risks related to the new cases. Indeed, public health investigations were responsible for detecting the new cluster. Tracing contacts and educating people about their risks has proven difficult, he said.
"We knew with this enhanced follow-up activity we would see an initial increase in the number of HIV-positive cases," said Hennink. "We are working with our partners in the community to ensure all of our efforts are aimed at providing the best possible services and follow-up care to clients."
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.