In Canada and in much of the Western world, thanks to the advent of combination antiretroviral therapy, there has been a clear improvement in health status and increased life expectancy of people living with HIV approaching that of the general population. However, despite these medical advances, negative public perception about HIV has yet to catch up to the reality that most clinicians encounter. The reality for the most part is of healthy and conscientious patients looking to improve their quality of life.
While HIV does not discriminate and can affect anyone, Canada’s HIV epidemic is concentrated in key populations – a result of both biological risk factors and the social determinants of health.
While roughly one out of every 10,000 Canadians is newly infected with HIV every year, the HIV incidence rate is much higher among Aboriginal peoples, Canadians born in countries where HIV is endemic, people who inject drugs, and men who have sex with men.
As AIDS Awareness Week begins and with World AIDS Day coming up on Monday, December 1, people and organizations across the country are talking about HIV at home and abroad. This week, one of the questions we’ll be asked most frequently at CATIE is: “What does HIV look like in Canada today?”