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International News

Canada: Saskatoon Clinic "Struggling" With Explosion of HIV

March 31, 2009

The Westside Clinic, located in a low-income neighborhood of Saskatoon, has experienced a quadrupling of the number of HIV patients it sees, and clinic officials say they are stretched to the limit. One of two sites run by the non-profit Saskatoon Community Clinic (SCC), Westside had 20 HIV patients three years ago but today has more than 85, said Stephen Helliar, a Westside family physician.

On March 15, SCC learned that its proposal to the Saskatchewan Health Ministry for funding to double its capacity was rejected. The $3.5 million (US $2.78 million) plan, developed in part to meet rising demand for HIV services, sought to double the clinic's working space, boost services, and provide space for other health care agencies, said Patrick Lapointe, SCC's administrator.

With new provincial data showing a sharp increase in the number of residents testing HIV-positive, Lapointe expressed hope the government would revisit its decision. "We can only see an increasing problem with HIV, hepatitis C, and diabetes and other diseases that are affecting people in the inner city," Helliar said. "We will continue to meet those needs, but with the limited resources that we have, this is going to be very difficult, and we are just struggling to do what we can right now."

During the March 24 Saskatchewan Legislature's question period, an opposition party member challenged the governing party over the clinic. "Why did the Sask Party leave some of the province's most vulnerable citizens out of this budget?" Judy Junor asked Health Minister Don McMorris. McMorris replied that the province has "already moved in the area of HIV," and he pointed to a review of Saskatchewan's needle-exchange program, an earmark for an aboriginal health initiative, and a mobile health care information bus for inner-city Saskatoon.

Back to other news for March 2009

Adapted from:
CBC News

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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.
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