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Canada’s Shocking HIV Rate and What Needs to be Done Right Now

by | Aug 22, 2022

Are you or someone you love suffering from HIV? The virus is insidious, and often people don’t know they’re infected. Sometimes, people even develop aids without knowing they even had HIV, to begin with. 

Today, with injectable HIV treatments Prep and the news of the fourth person ever to be cured of HIV, it’s hard to imagine that Canada is still struggling with climbing HIV rates. 

Unfortunately, in Canada, people are still being infected, more than anywhere else in the developed world. It’s not just the LGBT community either. So, in this article, we’ll lay out all the facts about Canada’s HIV epidemic and what we can do collectively to stop the spread. 

Canada flag flying on a blue sky day.

Canada has staggeringly high HIV rates when compared to other G7 countries

The stats in Canada are sad. Every day four Canadians contract HIV and 10% of those infected don’t know they have the virus. 

That number may not sound huge, but when you think about Canada’s population of 38 million, those numbers add up. In a year, that’s 1,460 new infections and 146 people who don’t know they could be infecting someone. 

As a country, Canada hasn’t achieved all three of the 90/90/90 targets individually. According to the Canadian Centre for Health Informatics, among Canadians living with HIV in 2018, 70% had an undetectable viral load and were therefore unable to transmit the virus. On the whole, Canada’s gap between reaching the overall target of 73 per cent of people living with HIV who are viral suppressors is relatively small.

HIV is still heavily stigmatized, with people thinking you can get the virus from kissing or drinking after another person. So, how can we stop this epidemic and keep more people safe?

Destigmatize HIV once and for all

Education plays a huge role in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. When people do not get tested and know their status, it can negatively impact society. However, getting tested for everyone is not as simple as it seems. 

We cannot simply rely on education as a means to stop the spread of the virus. Some marginalized groups are more likely to feel they cannot get tested without being judged. 

Institutional oppression can result in these marginalized groups feeling less than welcome to discuss their sex lives with care professionals. 

Indigenous people in Canada are disproportionately affected by HIV, and Indigenous women face a greater risk of contracting HIV than any other group. Racism and the legacy of colonialism have resulted in economic, social, and systematic barriers to HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care. Research has shown how criminalizing HIV non-disclosure is another layer of colonial violence and oppression for indigenous women living with HIV.

The only way to move forward and help Canada reach its goals of not spreading the virus is to promote acceptance. Learn about HIV, its effects and how the virus is spread, and you will not fear the virus. Instead, you will understand what it does to your body. 

When speaking to someone with HIV, do not judge them. people have many reasons they contract the virus. The stigma that has been placed on our community needs to be removed. It’s not only a gay virus. It doesn’t only affect our community. You don’t always get the virus because you’re promiscuous. 

Spread the word that people can get tested in the privacy of their own homes thanks to new rapid tests. It will break down perceived barriers to healthcare that people in and out of our community may be experiencing. These experiences compound over time and keep people from seeking the lifesaving help they need. 

Lastly, make sure that you raise awareness of the issue. It will keep you and the people you now and love safe from potentially catching the virus. Although it is not a death sentence anymore, there are still negative impacts on one’s quality of life.

Most importantly, fight for the right for everyone with HIV to access treatment. 

How do you feel knowing that Canada has the highest transmission rates of HIV of any G7 country? And have you ever experienced institutionalized oppression that made you feel as if you couldn’t access treatment? Let us know below in the comments. 

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Sean Kivi

Sean Kivi


Sean Kivi holds a master's degree from the University of Nottingham in translation studies from Spanish to English. He specializes in writing about gay culture and its influence on discourse. Sean speaks Spanish fluently and focuses on translating gay-themed literature to English and analyzing the discourse to understand how our culture is universal yet distinct in countries worldwide. He has translated for authors in Mexico and completed case studies related to machismo and its influences on gay culture in Latin America.

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