Nova Scotia’s HIV/AIDS strategy is making progress since it was announced in 2003. New treatment programs and supports for people living with HIV/AIDS are some of the achievements highlighted in an update released by the Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS today, Dec. 1, World AIDS Day. “Work has begun on all 19 recommended actions with significant progress on several of them,” said commission chair Larry Baxter. “Nova Scotia should be pleased with this progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS. However, there is still much to do on both the specific issues around HIV/AIDS and on those health and social factors that affect all our lives.” The strategy was released on Dec. 1, 2003. Progress on the recommendations includes: Events to commemorate World AIDS Day are taking place across the province. In Halifax, A Day Without Art will be held at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and the annual AIDS Vigil will take place at 7 p.m. at the Bloomfield Centre. AIDS vigils, fundraisers, concerts and other events are being held at various universities and in the communities of New Glasgow, Truro, Antigonish and Sydney. More information on events is available from the commission at 902-424-5730. AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is a disease caused by HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus that attacks the immune system. Between 1985 and 2004, 668 HIV-positive tests were reported in both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and between 1979 and 2004, 317 cases of AIDS were reported. The majority of both HIV and AIDS cases are in Nova Scotia. The actual number of cases is difficult to estimate because some people are diagnosed outside of Nova Scotia, are unaware of their infection, and/or choose not be tested. HIV/AIDS is 100 per cent preventable. A summary of the strategy is available online at www.gov.ns.ca/health/reports.htm#HIV/AIDS_Strategy or by contacting the AIDS commission at 902-424-5730. An anonymous testing program was established by the AIDS Coalition of Cape Breton, in partnership with Public Health Services, Cape Breton District Health Authority and Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority. The program will begin operating in late December. A methadone maintenance treatment program was established at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital by the addiction services section of the Cape Breton District Health Authority. Research into best practices in HIV/AIDS prevention and harm reduction in colleges and universities was completed. A report will be distributed in early 2006 to student health services in universities and colleges throughout Nova Scotia for discussion and followup action. The Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project is identifying the spiritual care needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS, and of their families and friends, and the resources available throughout Nova Scotia to respond to these needs. A report will be available in early 2006 outlining a process by which those needs may be responded to with available supports and services.