AIDS Program South Saskatchewan (APSS)
AIDS Program South Saskatchewan (APSS) supports their communities through COVID-19
APSS provides education, support, free testing and advocacy services for youth and adults living with and affected by HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C in Regina and Southern Saskatchewan.
The COVID-19 crisis has forced APSS to cancel some services and re-evaluate how they are running others. How has APSS been affected and how have they been adapting?
- APSS is continuing to distribute naloxone and offer naloxone training. However, they can only do a shorter version of this work, and it must be one-on-one.
- APSS continues to offer client care support, such as assistance with doctors’ appointments or food delivery, but this has also been partially cut back due to the requirement for physical distancing.
- With financial support from the South Saskatchewan Emergency Funds, APSS has begun to provide food for their clients.They are currently serving 400 people each week, with breakfast and lunch on Thursdays and Fridays, and breakfast all day on Saturdays.
- With other needle exchanges around the city having to pause, APSS has seen an increase in the number of people they are serving and supporting. In one week alone, they exchanged 40,000 needles in just 5 days.
We spoke to Amanda Sauer, the Education Coordinator with APSS. She told us, “The needle exchange has probably been impacted the hardest,” Sauer said. “Our clients still need to come. They still need to get their supplies. But we also need to be encouraging social distancing.”
Amanda also explained that she has moved a lot of APSS education pieces online. “We’re trying to do a little bit more with online education. We’re working with Facebook a lot, like knowledge checks on Friday and answering the questions on Monday. I’m also currently working on video animation and will be posting later on to help with education, because we have no idea how long this is going to last. We just want to be prepared. We want education still out there and we think that’s really important.”
APSS is responding to community needs as they emerge. Moving educational resources online, responding to increased needle exchange services and feeding 400 people each week has been no small task, but APSS is motivated to do this work with their community to get through a difficult time together.