The Prevalence of HIV-AIDS in Canada

Canada Overview

Geographic location

Canada is located in the North of America; it shares its border with the United States of America. It is surrounded by the Arctic Ocean to the North, the Atlantic ocean to its east, and the Pacific Ocean to its West. Canada ranks second in terms of the size of the country after Russia and ranks fourth in terms of land area (Queintin, 2003).


Canada’s 2006 census statistics reported that the population of Canada totaled 31,612,897. This depicted an increase by a margin of 5.4 percent in the previous census. This population growth can be significantly explained by increased immigration in Canada (Canadian Strategy on HIV/AIDS, 2006). The ethnic composition of Canada as reported by the 2006 census depicted the following: English (21 %), French (15.8 %), German (10.2 %), Ukrainians (3.6%), Scottish (15%), Chinese (4%) and Italians consisting of 5 %. Canada’s population is experiencing a demographic shift towards older people, having more retirees and fewer people who are still of working age. Religious patterns indicate that 77 percent of Canadians identify themselves with Christianity, of which majority of Catholics are making the largest group (The Daily, 2008).


Canada has a high per capita income and is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Its economic structure is a mixed market with its largest foreign importers being the United States, the UK and the Republic of Japan. The unemployment rate of Canada was rated 8.6 percent as of October 2009. Provincial unemployment rates differ significantly following the province and it varies from as low as 5.8 percent in the province of Manitoba to a high of approximately 17 % percent in the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador (The Daily, 2008).

The Impact of HIV/Aids in Canada


Over a long period, HIV tends to weaken the body’s immune system up to a level whereby the human body can not offer any resistance to bacterial and viral infections. This presents the onset of AIDS to the human body. Health Canada reports that 26 percent of people in Canada living with HIV/AIDS are not aware that they are infected with the virus. If people do not have the knowledge and awareness of HIV/AIDS it becomes difficult to manage the situation for a nation (Boulus et al., 2005).

HIV/AIDS timeline in Canada

The first case of HIV/AIDS in Canada was witnessed in 1982. Health Canada reports that ever since HIV/AIDS was first diagnosed in Canada, there have been approximately 20000 diagnoses have been reported. The number of diagnoses was at its maximum during 1993 whereby it recorded approximately 2000 diagnoses of the viral infection. Ever since, the prevalence has been on the decline. The initial dramatic decrease in the AIDS prevalence in Canada can be associated with the use of antiretroviral therapy; which was popularized in 1996 (Boulos et al., 2005).

After declining the prevalence of HIV/AIDS between 1995 and 1997, the number of diagnoses of AIDS reduced gradually until 2000. The analysis of recent years is quite challenging because some provinces report their statistics late (Boulos et al., 2005).

During the period between 1980 and 1994, females accounted for approximately 7 percent of the known AIDS cases, by the close of 2007, the proportion had increased to almost 20 percent.

The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that at the close of 2008, 65000 people in Canada had been infected with HIV/AIDS; this marked a 14 percent increase from 2008. PHAC also reports that men to have sexual intercourse with other men are mostly affected by the HIV pandemic in Canada. PHAC estimated the following exposure categories concerning the new infections:

  1. 44 percent of the new infections were as a result of gay sex.
  2. 17 percent was as a result of the use of injection drugs.
  3. 36 percent was due to heterosexual sex.
Canada AIDS statistics by year and age.
Table 1: Canada AIDS statistics by year and age.

Mode of transmission of HIV/AIDS in Canada

The main mode of transmission for HIV in Canada is through sexual intercourse with an infected person. In Canada, most exposure group that is significantly affected by the prevalence of AIDS is the men who have sexual intercourse with other men. Research depicts that majority of people who are infected with HIV/ AIDS in Canada are the gay population (Health Canada 2010). Heterosexual intercourse transmission is also on the rise; through male to female transmission and female to male transmission.

Heterosexual transmission is basically due to unprotected sex with an infected partner. Another means of transmission of HIV in Canada is through the use of injection drugs. Although not popular, it is gradually becoming a common exposure category towards the transmission of HIV in Canada (Boulos et al., 2005).

Trends of HIV and Aids Prevalence in Canada

HIV/AIDS among the youth in Canada

Demographics depict that the youth represent a small portion of the population. They also represent the small portion of the reported cases of HIV and AIDS in Canada. PHAC reports that people between the ages of 10 to 24 accounts for 3.5 percent of the cumulative incidences of AIDS incidences. For the case of HIV testing and reporting, studies report that the youth of ages between 10 and 19 represent approximately 2 % of the total diagnoses that have been reported. Although the statistics indicate that the prevalence of HIV and AIDS among the Canadian youth is low, risk behavior analysis indicates that they are potential for HIV transmission (Health Canada, 2010).

Health Canada reports that about 50-60 % of grade 9 and 11 students are of the view that there is a vaccine to prevent HIV/AIDS. The same research indicated that 36% of students in grade 11 purport that there is an AIDS cure (Health Canada, 2010).

PHAC (2009) reveals that the street- youths; who use drugs, and young men who practice homosexual sex are at the greatest risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. These statistics imply that prevention measures have to be put in place to prevent a further increase in the cases of HIV and AIDS among the Canadian youth.

HIV/AIDS among the women

Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (2010) reports that as of December 31 2009, approximately 10,000 positive HIV tests of adult women were reported. The Canadian women represent an inclining proportion of those reported to be HIV positive; during 2009, they represented almost 31 % of those reported to be diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. Heterosexual intercourses and the use of injection drugs are the key risk factors for Canadian women contracting HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS among the older people

Demographics depict that older people form a majority of the Canadian population. As of December 31 2006, there were about 2700 reported AIDS cases of people aged 50 and above. HIV and AIDS prevalence among older people has been on the increase since 1985. The prevalence is reported to have risen from an initial rate of 7.6 % to a current rate of 13.8 %. The major risk factor for contracting HIV and AIDS among the older Canadians is sexual intercourse. During 2006, the men who had sex with men accounted for about 35 percent and the heterosexual intercourses accounted for about 32% of the reported cases of HIV and AIDS among the Canadians aged 50 and above. Among the older Canadians, Men account for a majority of the reported cases of HIV and AIDS in Canada (Health Canada, 2010).

Prenatal HIV transmission

HIV is also prevalent among pregnant women in Canada. The prevalence rates among pregnant women have been on the increase since 1994 to the present date; from 2 per 10,000 to approximately 9 per 10,000. This marked the increase in the use of antiretroviral therapy by HIV-positive pregnant women (PHAC, 2009).

HIV/AIDS prevalence among the MSM (men who have sex with other men)

Homosexuality is a dominant sexual characteristic in Canada. The MSM in Canada accounts for approximately 76.3 % of the reported cases of AIDS among adult males. The MSM has also accounted for about 68.1 % of the reported HIV positive tests among adult males, since the onset of HIV/AIDS in Canada (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2009).

HIV/AIDS prevalence among the people who Inject Drugs (IDU)

The AIDS Foundation Canada reports that Injection of drug use accounted for about 9% of the reported adult AIDS cases and 17 % of reported adult cases who were HIV positive by December 2007 (Statistics Canada, 2008). The national HIV estimates of 2007 revealed that new HIV infections were a result of use of injection drugs. The projected number of cases of new infections due to the use of injection drugs is continually increasing.

Risk behaviors among the Canadians who use injection drugs

Canadian public health association reports that there are high levels of risky drug injection sexual behavior among the Canadians who frequently use injection drugs; this implies a potential avenue for transmission of HIV among these people (Statistics Canada, 2008).

HIV/AIDS prevalence among the people who originate from HIV endemic countries

The HIV/AIDS endemic in Canada draws a correlation from its citizens who originate from counties where HIV is endemic. HIV prevalence in people who belong to the HIV- endemic exposure category is diagnosed at a lower age compared to other heterosexual exposure categories. AIDS Foundation Canada reports that almost 80 percent of reported HIV positive tests under the HIV-endemic exposure category were for individuals whose age was below 40 years (Boulos et al., 2005).

HIV/AIDS has a major impact on women who originate from nations where HIV is endemic. Out of the reported positive HIV tests, women under the HIV-endemic exposure category represented approximately 55% and 42 % for AIDS incidences during the period between 1998 and 2006 (Boulos et al., 2005).

HIV/AIDS preventive and control measures in Canada

The Canadian government has necessary preventive and control measures to counteract the HIV and AIDS endemic in Canada. Some of the necessary steps undertaken include:

  1. The government has initiated campaigns aimed at increasing the awareness that AIDS is endemic in Canada and therefore urges its citizens to take precautionary measures and personal initiatives to combat AIDS such as the practicing of safe and protected sex through the use of condoms (Health Canada, 2010).
  2. The government is also investing in the increasing geographical coverage of the surveillance of the risky behaviors of those Canadians who use the injection drugs among the various Canadian cities (Health Canada, 2010).
  3. The Canadian government is also focusing on preventive measures towards the AIDS endemic through the involvement of public health facilities and sensitizing the community to have an in-depth understanding of AIDS in Canada (Health Canada, 2010).

These strategies deployed by the government can be deemed successful because AIDS in Canada has declined in the present times. The Canadian population is presently informed about the AIDS endemic.

Effects of HIV/AIDS on the Canadian economy

The onset of HIV /AIDS in Canada posed many problems to the nation in its wider context especially in its economy (Colin, 2001). AIDS has affected the Canadian economy in several ways:

  1. The total cost of controlling and preventing the prevalence of AIDS costs the Canadian federal government huge amounts of money, which in turn affects the Canadian economic progress due to a shift in priorities (Colin, 2001).
  2. The Canadian population is devoid of the youthful working age, with the increased AIDS prevalence, the working and youthful population is slowly reducing which will ultimately have an effect on the economic structure of Canada (Colin, 2001).
  3. The prevalence of AIDS and related co-infections affects the productive capability of the nation. Premature deaths and disability conditions play a significant role in pulling down the Canadian economy (Colin, 2001).

The future of HIV/AIDS in Canada

The future trends of HIV/AIDS in Canada will be significantly determined by the Canadian population trends (Health Canada, 2010). The present studies indicate that HIV/AIDS is majorly prevalent among men who have sex with other men (gay relationships).

The Canadian government has made it public that the AIDS endemic is in Canada and therefore it has initiated necessary steps to help prevent and control the further prevalence of AIDS in Canada. The federal government in Canada has prioritized the prevention and control of HIV/ AIDS. The federal government initiative to control and prevent HIV/ AIDS is one of the government’s long-term projects; the government aims at coordinating with the provincial governments to ensure that the AIDS pandemic is put to rest. The federal’s initiative also aims at funding prevention and control programs that attempt to reach target populations as well as research on AIDS (Aids Foundation Canada).

With the working population in Canada being gradually wiped out by AIDS, the government has seen the necessity to fund AIDS-related programs that are directed towards the youth and the middle-aged. The government is partnering with Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the correctional service of Canada and the Canadian Institute of Health Research to administer and monitor AIDS control programs and generate periodical reports that are aimed to monitor the progress of AIDS fighting in Canada (Colin, 2001).

List of Abbreviations

  • AIDS – acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
  • HIV – human immunodeficiency virus
  • IDU – people who inject drugs
  • MSM – men who have sex with men
  • PHAC- Public Health Agency of Canada


Aids Foundation Canada. Canada Aids Foundation and HIV Treatment. Aids Foundation Canada. Web.

Boulos D., Yan, P., Schanzer, D., Remis, R.S., & Archibald, C.P. (2006). Estimates of HIV prevalence and incidence in Canada, 2005. Canada Communicable Disease Report, 32(15).

Canada AIDS Statistics by Year and Age. (n.d.). Web.

Canadian Strategy on HIV/AIDS. (2006). Moving Forward Together – Federal Initiative – Public Health Agency of Canada. Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) Agence De La Sante Publique Du Canada (ASPC). Web.

Colin, D. (2001). The Cost of HIV/Aids in Canada. Rep. Glen Haven. Web.

Health Canada. (2010). It is your health. Web.

Public Health Agency of Canada (2009). Reports and publications. Web.

Quentin, H. (2003). Canadian Oxford World Atlas (5th Ed.). Toronto: Oxford University Press Canada.

Statistics Canada. (2008). The Daily. Web.