“World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, provides an opportunity for people to learn more about the impacts of HIV and AIDS.

“There is no cure for HIV infection, but when detected early, and with treatment, many people with HIV are able to live long and active lives. Medications can slow or stop damage to the immune system or help the immune system return to a healthier state. Medication is also available to reduce the risks of acquiring HIV.

“Since it began in the 1980s, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has claimed the lives of tens of millions of people. This World AIDS Day, take the opportunity to learn more about the impacts of HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, raise awareness of HIV prevention and extend compassion to the partners, friends, families and communities who grieve the loss of a loved one due to HIV-related illness. Albertans can also show their support for people living with HIV by wearing a red ribbon, the universal symbol of HIV awareness and support.

“There is still much work to be done to raise awareness and take action on HIV. To do this, we must reduce the stigma associated with HIV so that people can feel comfortable talking about it, taking precautions, getting tested and, if needed, treated – recognizing that HIV does not discriminate. 

“Alberta has the best available treatments and testing for HIV, and they are free. Self-tests are also available. Please don’t hesitate to speak with your health-care provider about prevention and testing. HIV may not show up in a blood test until three months after exposure, so it is important to speak with partners and use prevention to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus to others.”