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Canadian Public Health Association

World AIDS Day provides an opportunity to reflect on and refocus Canada’s collective efforts


Ottawa, Ontario

On World AIDS Day, 1 December, the Canadian Public Health Association calls upon all levels of governments, non-governmental organizations, service providers and citizens to reflect on and to refocus our collective efforts to reduce the number of new HIV infections every year, and tackle the barriers—including stigma—that hinder HIV prevention, testing and support.

Government statistics show that despite years of investments and committed efforts across sectors, the number of new infections remains relatively unchanged. “The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that there were 2,570 new infections of HIV in 2014. That’s equivalent to seven new infections a day. And that’s way too many new infections,” said Ian Culbert, Executive Director of the Canadian Public Health Association. “The status quo is not good enough.” 

In addition to nearly static rates of new HIV infections, the rates of some other sexually-transmitted or blood-borne infections (STBBIs) have skyrocketed in recent years. Between 2003 and 2012, rates of reported cases of chlamydia increased by 57.6%, rates of reported cases of gonorrhea increased by 38.9%, and rates of reported cases of infectious syphilis increased by 101%.

“Based on most recent data, an estimated 21% of people living with HIV in Canada are unaware of their infection,” said Culbert. “We need to aggressively tackle all barriers – especially stigma and discrimination – that prevent people from accessing HIV testing and support services.”

Stigma is one of the greatest challenges associated with Canada’s response to HIV and other STBBIs, and frontline health and social service providers must continue to play a crucial role to help reduce new infections and support people living with HIV by continuing to create more welcoming, non-stigmatizing environments.

“The offer of testing for HIV and other STBBIs, and the conversation about sexual health, needs to become normalized in Canada,” said Culbert. “We need to approach people in a holistic manner and not just focus on a single infection, or a particular behaviour.”

In an effort to support frontline service providers, the Canadian Public Health Association has developed a number of resources that underscore the individual and organizational factors required to enhance services and reduce stigma, and ultimately improve health outcomes for those affected by or living with HIV and other STBBIs.

Related Resources

For more information contact:

Ian Culbert, Executive Director
Canadian Public Health Association
Telephone: 613.725.3769, ext 142

For more information contact:
Dolores Gutierrez, Communications & Marketing Officer
Canadian Public Health Association
Telephone: 613.725.3769, ext. 190

About the Canadian Public Health Association
Founded in 1910, the Canadian Public Health Association is the independent voice for public health in Canada with links to the international community. As the only Canadian non-governmental organization focused exclusively on public health, we are uniquely positioned to advise decision-makers about public health system reform and to guide initiatives to help safeguard the personal and community health of Canadians and people around the world. We are a national, independent, not-for-profit, voluntary association. Our members believe in universal and equitable access to the basic conditions that are necessary to achieve health for all.

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