The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) says the northwest part of the province has recently seen a growing number of HIV and syphilis cases.

An HIV outbreak has been declared in North Battleford and a syphilis outbreak has been declared in the Lloydminster and Battlefords areas.

15 new HIV cases were reported in North Battleford during the first five months of 2019.

An average of four cases in the city were reported each year between 2013 and 2018.

42 cases of syphilis were recorded this year by the end of last month in the former health region that included Lloydminster and the Battlefords.

Less than seven new cases of syphilis a year were previously reported in these areas.

“This is not to scare the public,” Dr. Mandiangu Nsungu, Medical Health Officer (MHO) Area Lead North with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, says. “One of the reasons for declaring the outbreak is to actually give the public an opportunity to be informed. We want the public to be aware of the risks associated with these infections, and how they can be prevented and treated. HIV and syphilis are treatable diseases. It is important that individuals who are sexually active know their own status for HIV and syphilis. Knowing your status means that treatment can be provided and individuals can be helped to reduce the risk of spreading the illness.”

A team that includes workers from Battle River Treaty 6 Health Services, Indigenous Services Canada, the SHA and the Ministry of Health is providing a response.

“One advantage of coming together as one big health authority is that we can actually pool our resources together,” Nsungu adds.

(PHOTO: Health Minister Jim Reiter being tested for HIV. File photo.)