History of HIV in Canada
Although researchers have traced the origins of HIV as far back as the 1930's, the first diagnosis of AIDS was not made until 1981. The first Canadian death due to AIDS was in 1983, and approximately 21,000 people in Canada have since died while infected with HIV.
At first, HIV mostly affected gay men and people infected through blood transfusions. The face of HIV/AIDS has changed dramatically in Canada over the past quarter century. Although men who have sex with men continue to be most affected by HIV/AIDS in Canada, HIV in Saskatchewan has also become a significant public health issue for injecting drug users, women, Aboriginal peoples, prison inmates, people from countries where HIV is endemic, as well as those already living with HIV/AIDS. Risk behaviour data on young Canadians also show significant potential for HIV transmission among youth.
Through the combined efforts of many collaborators - governments, people living with HIV/AIDS, populations affected by the epidemic, civil society, professionals working in health care, education and social and legal services, researchers and the private sector - Canada can point to a number of important successes during the past two decades.
For example, mother-to-child transmission of HIV has been nearly eliminated in Canada. The progress of the epidemic has been slowed recently among certain populations (e.g. injection drug users), and treatment advances have prolonged and improved the quality of life of many Canadians living with HIV. Canada's blood system has been made as safe as possible from contamination by HIV and other infectious diseases, and steps have been taken to increase public awareness about HIV/AIDS and to tackle social stigma and discrimination around HIV infection.
Nevertheless, the epidemic continues to grow in Canada, taking a tragic and unnecessary toll on some of the most marginalized populations in the country. Until a safe and effective vaccine is developed for HIV, and a cure is found that can fully rid the body of the HIV virus, HIV/AIDS will remain a public health concern for all Canadians.
Read about Saskatchewan's HIV strategy. Learn more about HIV in Saskatchewan, policies, testing sites, and more.