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Clinics to address backlog of cervical cancer screening in area

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A number of clinics will be held in the next few months to help address a backlog of local women who need cervical cancer screening. The first such clinic will be held Oct. 28 at the Algoma Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic at 443 Northern Ave.

The clinics are being offered to help address a backlog of the procedure.

Juli Briglio is a nurse practitioner at the clinic. She says she is often asked about availability for the procedure in the community.

“People will stop me on the street and ask me ‘where can I go to get a pap smear?’ It’s very distressing for them, they are very aware they have to get these tests done,” said Briglio. “For women, cervical cancer screening is a huge part of our health and a large percentage of our community is not being serviced.”

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The biggest issue, said Briglio, is access. Thousands of women in Sault Ste. Marie do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner to see regularly, making it more difficult for them to stay on top of the need for it.

“Nobody loves to get a pap smear done, but everyone knows they need to get one done. They will come, even knowing that it is uncomfortable and sometimes painful, they will still make the effort to get the screening test done. There are very few who refuse to get a pap test,” said Briglio.

Dominic Noel, executive director of the Algoma Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic, said cervical cancer screening was down about 64 per cent during the early months of the pandemic.

“The screening has picked up significantly to the point where we actually have a backlog to actually process the samples that are sent,” he said.

Early detection is key, said Noel.

“The importance of screening early is so crucial because what we are looking at is survival rates. The sooner we actually diagnose this cancer, the higher the probability of survival,” said Noel. “If we can catch the cancer in the first stage, for example, the five-year survival is between 80 and 93 per cent. This is why we are really keen on making this service available to women in our region.”

The screening is available for all women over the age of 21, but those under 25 should speak to a nurse practitioner or family doctor to see if one is required, said Noel. After the first screening, women should get one every three years until at least the age of 70.

A total of 100 spaces will be open for the clinic on Oct. 28, those interested can call 705 942-4717 x3006.

Algoma Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic is just one of the Ontario Health Team partners who will be holding the clinics. Noel said in December the Superior Family Health Team will be offering a similar clinic and in March the Group Health Centre is also expected to hold one.

Briglio said she likes to ensure people are aware of the HPV vaccine for prevention.

“HPV is the number one cause of cervical cancer and aside from that it also causes cancer in other parts, like the mouth, the throat and anal-genital area. The screening generally — not just for cervical cancer — is an important piece, as well,” she said.

The HPV vaccine is available for females age nine to 45 and for males age nine to 26.

“HPV is the number one cause of cervical cancer and aside from that it also causes cancer in other parts, like the mouth, the throat and anal-genital area. The screening generally — not just for cervical cancer — is an important piece, as well,” said Briglio.

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Children’s hospital in Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries

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A children’s hospital in the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries and appointments starting Monday.

Health officials say it’s due to a high level of respiratory illness.

It is unclear how many surgeries and appointments at Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. John‘s will be affected.

Residents who are not experiencing a medical emergency are being asked to avoid visiting an emergency department.

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Older adults amongst the most susceptible to RSV

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TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The risk of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV, typically flies under the radar when it comes to older adults.

With 10 times the amount of older adults being hospitalized for RSV than in previous years, understanding the risk is important for those who are more susceptible.

“RSV in older adults starts out with the same symptoms as younger adults. With common cold-like symptoms- nasal congestion, sniffles, low-grade temperature, sore throat, dry cough, tiredness. These symptoms will last for a few days,” Mary Derby, Nurse Manager at Pima County Health Department explained.

“However, an older adult or an adult with chronic medical conditions such as heart and lung disease- they can experience more serious symptoms, such as getting a high fever, dehydration, and real difficulty breathing.”

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Derby says if these symptoms lead to extreme chest pain, loss of color in the face, or struggle to breathe- seek medical attention immediately.

It is also important for those assisting an older adult to be aware of the risk imposed on those more susceptible.

“If you’re caring for older adults, please wash your hands frequently. Watch for your own symptoms and stay away if you’re experiencing symptoms. Consider wearing a mask to protect that older adult, because these older adults do need that protection… Take it seriously,” Derby emphasized.

Upward 6,000 to 10,000 older adults die each year from RSV.

As we make our way through the holidays, be sure to stay up to date with COVID-19 and Influenza vaccines, stay home if you are not feeling well, wash your hands often and for those at higher risk, wear a fitted mask around others.

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Breanna Isbell is a reporter for KGUN 9. She joined the KGUN 9 team in July of 2022 after receiving her bachelor’s degree in sports journalism from Arizona State University in May. Share your story ideas with Breanna by emailing breanna.isbell@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, or Twitter.

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AIDS day walk in North Battleford aims to `banish that stigma’

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 By Julia Peterson

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

On World AIDS Day, advocates in the Battlefords gathered to raise awareness about how the virus affects people in their community, and how people can get help and treatment, if they need it.

“HIV is completely preventable in today’s society, with all the advances in medication,” said Battle River Treaty 6 Health Centre’s HIV project coordinator, Cymric Leask. “But due to a lot of intersecting factors, especially due to COVID  in the past couple of years, our HIV numbers have skyrocketed.”

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In 2021, more than 200 new cases of HIV were diagnosed in the province, even while testing, treatment and outreach were reduced during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saskatchewan has the highest rate of new HIV infections in Canada, and has had the highest annual rate in the country for more than a decade.

The proportion of new HIV cases in rural areas is rising, too.

“Here up north, there are such large barriers to access to care,” said Leask. “We do have some great resources here in North Battleford  but it’s still very hard to access the proper care for HIV.”

For example, getting started on HIV medication requires a visit with a communicable disease doctor, but there is no communicable disease doctor based in the Battlefords. Instead, that doctor visits the community only once every four months.

Another barrier Leask has found is that many people still have an outdated  understanding of what HIV is, who is at risk and how treatment works.

“Especially here in rural areas, it’s stigmatized as something that only affects gay or bisexual men, men who have sex with men,” Leask said.

Today in Saskatchewan, men and women are diagnosed with HIV at almost equal rates, and two thirds of new cases are passed through injection drug use.

Treatments are much easier to manage than they used to be; some only involve taking one pill a day.

But the enduring stigma around HIV makes it harder for people to find community and support.

“People don’t talk about it,” said Jackie Kennedy, executive director of the Battlefords Indian and Metis Friendship Centre. “I think they’re afraid to. A lot of people don’t disclose that information (about their HIV status) because they are afraid to be judged.”

As more people continue to be diagnosed with HIV in Saskatchewan every year, groups and organizations in the Battlefords are working hard to make it easier for people to get testing, treatment, information and harm reduction supplies.

“We want to banish that stigma of how it used to be,” said Leask. “It’s not like that anymore.”

  Julia Peterson is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with THE STARPHOENIX

The LJI program is federally funded.

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