The government pledged $2.5-million this week for frontline HIV care and community outreach.
The new funding has been committed to four main areas:
- clinical management
- prevention and harm reduction
- community engagement and education
Frontline workers, meanwhile, say even more money is needed to combat the disease.
Stephen Helliar, a doctor in a west side Saskatoon clinic, said AIDS is costing the provincial health system at least $40-million a year.
"It's already a minimum, a conservative estimate that it's costing $40-million a year because of HIV," he said.. "This is just the beginning of the epidemic and people are getting sicker all the time."
Helliar says he encounters between one and two new cases a week. What makes it difficult — and expensive — is that the people never come in with just AIDS. Patients also often have hepatitis-C and diabetes. These individuals end up in hospital for extended periods.
"I would hope that no matter what political party is in power that they realize this is a major epidemic that we're facing in this province and that people are suffering and people are dying from this disease," said Helliar.
Meantime, the co-discoverer of AIDs virus said governments worldwide lack sufficient political willingness to effectively battle the virus. Dr. Francoise Barre-Sinoussi is in Saskatoon to take part in the 19th Annual Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS Research.
Barre-Sinoussi said researchers have made tremendous progress in finding news ways of treating the virus but more effort has to be put into prevention.
She said 40 million people around the world are receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS — less than half the number than are actually infected.