SASKATOON -- The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is warning that there has been an increase in HIV infections in the east central area of the province over the last few months.

HIV, which stands for human immunodeficiency virus, is spread from person-to-person through unprotected sexual activity and by sharing needles and other drug equipment. A mother can also transmit HIV to her child during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding, the SHA said in a news release. 

Some people have flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat or swollen glands when they first get HIV. However, most people who get it don’t have any symptoms and don’t know they have it, according to the SHA. 

“We want the public to be aware of the risks associated with these infections, and how they can be prevented and treated,” said Dr. Ashok Chhetri, Medical Health Officer with the SHA in the release. 

“HIV is treatable. It is important that individuals who are sexually active or use drugs know their status for HIV. Knowing your status means that treatment can be provided and individuals can be helped to reduce the risk of spreading the illness.” 

The SHA said HIV can be prevented by not sharing drug use equipment and by practicing safer sex. 

It adds that the only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested, which is free and confidential. 

The SHA said treatment is offered immediately to infected individuals and that the sooner treatment is started, the better it is for your health. 

Anyone can request HIV and sexual health testing by visiting their physician or nurse practitioner or by attending a walk-in clinic or sexual health clinic.