HIV/AIDS Info

HIV/AIDS

Many people don’t understand how HIV and AIDS are related, even though they hear these two words used together all the time.

HIV = Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

AIDS = Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

Understanding what it means to be HIV positive is relatively simple – either you are infected with the virus or you aren’t – but how do you understand AIDS?

AIDS, which stands for “Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome” is a way of describing a whole group of symptoms and diseases associated with the damage HIV does to the immune system.

As an HIV infection progresses, there is ongoing damage to immune defense cells and the body becomes increasingly less able to fight off infection. This means that individuals with advanced HIV disease are susceptible to infections that don’t show up in people with healthy immune systems. They are called opportunistic infections because they take advantage of the weakened ability of an HIV positive individual to fight off disease.

The difference between AIDS and HIV is that a person is said to have AIDS, as opposed to simply being HIV positive, when either the numbers of specific types of cells in their immune system drop below a certain level or when they develop one of a specific group of opportunistic infections.

It is important to know that a person can live with HIV for many years without developing AIDS or any symptoms of HIV infection. This is why it is important to be regularly tested for the virus. Even if a person does not know they are infected, however, they can still transmit the virus to other people through unprotected sex and other risky behaviors that directly expose other people to their blood, semen, breast milk, and other potentially infectious bodily fluids. HIV is not spread through casual contact.

 

#Test YYJ is a project of VPWAS to provide information and guidance for STI/STD and HIV testing n Victoria and on Vancouver Island.

 


By the Numbers: HIV/AIDS in Canada

The number of people living with HIV in Canada (prevalence) is increasing.

According to 2014 national HIV estimates:

  • An estimated 75,500 Canadians were living with HIV at the end of 2014.
  • This represents an increase of 6,700 people (9.7%) since 2011.
  • The HIV prevalence rate is 212.0 per 100,000 people living in Canada.
  • HIV prevalence increased during the 1980s, slowed down in the mid-1990s, but began to rise again in the late 1990s. This increase is a result of both new HIV infections and fewer deaths due to effective treatment options.


Just over one in five people living with HIV in Canada are unaware that they have HIV.

According to 2014 national HIV estimates:

  • An estimated 16,020 people living with HIV remained undiagnosed in 2014.
  • This represents 21% of the estimated number of people living with HIV.
  • The percentage of people who were unaware of their HIV-positive status varied by exposure category: people exposed through heterosexual sex were most likely to be unaware of their HIV infection (28%), followed by people exposed through injection drug use (20%), and finally men exposed through male-to-male sex (18%).

Over 26,000 people living with HIV have died since the beginning of the epidemic.

According to national HIV estimates, 26,400 people with HIV had died due to an HIV-related illness or other cause by the end of 2014.

The HIV epidemic in Canada is concentrated in specific populations (prevalence).

According to 2014 national HIV estimates, people living with HIV include an estimated:

  • 39,630 gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). This represents 53% of all people living with HIV in Canada. The estimate includes 37,230 men whose HIV status was attributed to men having sex with men and 2,400 men whose HIV status could be attributed to either men having sex with men or injection drug use (MSM-IDU).
  • 13,960 people who used injection drugs (IDU). This represents 19% of all people living with HIV in Canada. The estimate includes 11,560 people whose HIV status was attributed to injection drug use and 2,400 men whose HIV status could be attributed to either men having sex with men or injection drug use (please note that these 2,400 men are the same as those noted in the bullet point above).
  • 23,700 people whose HIV status was attributed to heterosexual sex. This represents 31% of all people living with HIV in Canada. Of these, 11,360 people (15% of all people living with HIV) were from a country where HIV is endemic (primarily countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean).
  • 610 people whose HIV status could not be attributed to sex or injection drug use. This includes people who likely contracted HIV through blood transfusions or clotting factors, transmission from mother to child, or needle-stick injuries in the workplace. This represents less than 1% of all people living with HIV in Canada.
  • 6,850 Aboriginal people. This represents 9% of all people living with HIV in Canada.
  • 16,880 females. This represents 22% of all people living with HIV in Canada.

The number of new HIV infections in Canada (incidence) has decreased slightly in the past several years but is not insubstantial.

According to 2014 national HIV estimates:

  • An estimated 2,570 people became infected with HIV in Canada in 2014.
  • This is only slightly lower than the estimated 2,800 new infections in 2011.
  • The HIV incidence rate is 7.2 per 100,000 people living in Canada.

Certain populations have higher rates of new HIV infections (incidence).

According to 2014 national estimates:

  • Aboriginal populations have incidence rates 2.7 times higher than people of other ethnicities.
  • People from HIV-endemic countries (living in Canada) have incidence rates 6.3 times higher than people of other ethnicities (living in Canada).

The following population-specific incidence rates are not yet available for 2014. According to 2011 national estimates:

  • Men who have sex with men have incidence rates 71 times higher than other men.
  • People who inject drugs have incidence rates 46 times higher than people who do not inject drugs.
  • Males have incidence rates 3.3 times higher than females.
    Note: Estimates from 2014 cannot be directly compared to estimates from 2011 because of different methods used to create the estimates.
    Key definitions

HIV prevalence — The number of people who are living with HIV at a point in time. Prevalence tells us how many people have HIV.

HIV incidence — The number of new HIV infections in a defined period of time (usually one year). Incidence tells us how many people are getting HIV.

Source

The epidemiology of HIV in Canada; fact sheet CATIE.ca

http://www.catie.ca/en/fact-sheets/epidemiology/epidemiology-hiv-canada

Vancouver Island Persons Living With HIV/AIDS Society (VPWAS) 101 - 1139 Yates Street, Coast Salish Territories, Victoria, BC. V8V 3N2
Phone: 250.382.7927 | Fax: 250.382.3232 | Toll Free: 1.877.382.7927 | support@vpwas.org | www.vpwas.org |