An MC addresses the crowd at the HIV Education for Change event in Prince Albert. Photo by Travis Radke.

The Prince Albert Parkland Health Region hosted an event Wednesday designed to educate people on HIV.

Health officials from Saskatchewan and BC spoke on how to prevent and treat ailments of HIV.

Speakers included experts from the Dr. Peter Centre and the Insite supervised injection sites in Vancouver.

The Dr. Peter Centre is a facility that provides treatment and care to people suffering from HIV. Representatives for the centre are trying to promote HIV treatments across Canada.

“In Vancouver, we’ve got a concentration group of folks living in a smaller area,” says centre spokesperson Patrick McDougall. “If you’re looking at rural or remote services, the appropriate services might be mobile. You have to look at what’s going to work in different communities. There are many models that are working across Canada. There are models that are going to work in smaller communities. If the community passion is there, the models will follow.”

Insite’s first supervised injection site in North American opened in 2003 and allows an environment for drug users to access clean injection equipment under the supervision of healthcare professionals who can intervene in the event of an overdose.

In 2016, Insite reported 214,898 visits by 8,040 individuals — 17.9% of which were Aboriginal.

The injection site is a means to prevent deaths from overdoses and transmission of HIV and is not meant to promote drug use.

“There’s no party cheering people on to use more drugs or have more reckless sex,” says Insite representative Tim Gauthier. “What we are doing is accepting that people are doing these things that are not maybe the safest things to do, but accepting that people do them and that it doesn’t have to be as dangerous as it is.”

Currently, HIV tests and needle exchanges are available at the Sexual Health Centre in Prince Albert.

Earlier this year, Prince Albert city council passed a motion to build a supervised injection site with federal and provincial funding.

The Prince Albert site would be the first in the province.