Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
British Columbia, Canada, Reports a ‘Modest But Alarming’ Increase in New HIV Infections
British Columbia, Canada, has reported a "modest but alarming" increase in new HIV infections following six years of decline, and AIDS activists are concerned that the rise in infections signals failure among HIV prevention efforts, the Canadian Press reports. Although new HIV infections in the province declined from 840 in 1994 to 413 in 2000, the number of new infections rose to 440 in 2001. New infections rose among homosexual and heterosexual populations in the province. Glen Hillson, chair of the British Columbia Persons With AIDS Society, said that although British Columbia implemented "one of the most sophisticated and effective responses [to HIV/AIDS] in the world" during the 1980s, "the province, and Canada, have fallen behind," according to the Canadian Press. Rich Marchand, a researcher with the Community Based Research Center in Vancouver, said that while needle-exchange programs represent the largest "investment" in HIV prevention programs, there is a lack of prevention programs targeting gay men. A survey of gay men in Montreal and Vancouver found that 56% of HIV-positive men reported having unprotected sex in the previous six or 12 months. Some AIDS advocates say that HIV/AIDS and homosexuality still carry a stigma in smaller communities. "Homophobia prevents prevention posters from being put in public places. Anything referring to gay men is torn down. Local research on gay men in the region does not exist," Marchand said. "Prevention means taking on homophobia. Prevention means overcoming the social and legal barriers that surround drug use and sex," he added (Moore, Canadian Press, 9/4).
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