About 25 people wore red ribbons as a flag bearing the same symbol was raised to a grey Halifax sky at the Nova Scotia legislature yesterday to kick off HIV/AIDS Awareness Week in the province.

The cross-country campaign is put on each year to celebrate progress in the fight against AIDS and HIV, and this year's campaign has a specific focus on women, especially young women aged 15 to 29.

Michelle Proctor-Simms, director of the Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS, said the number of infections in women is steadily increasing.


“HIV is still present in our province,” she said. “We need to continue in our efforts to focus on prevention, especially in youth and women.”

Larry Baxter, chairperson of the Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS, said the campaign is also a reminder that having unprotected sex and sharing needles puts you at risk of the infection.

He said people who have participated in “risky” behavior need to get checked to prevent the spread of infection.

AIDS Awareness Week started yesterday and will culminate in a World AIDS Day gathering on Dec. 1, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Italian Cultural Centre on Agricola St. in Halifax.

Proctor-Simms said more than 700 infections have been reported in the province since 1985. In June of 2008, 311 adult women were reported as HIV positive, from a total of 1,281 in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.