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Almost 15,000 Canadians don't know they have HIV: report
  Mon, 31 Jul 2006 15:51:03 EDT
CBC News
About 58,000 people are living with HIV in Canada, but about a quarter of them or almost 14,500 don't know they are infected, the Public Health Agency of Canada said Monday.
A report by the agency aims to estimate the total number of HIV and AIDS cases in Canada in 2005, including those that go undiagnosed. In the past, only confirmed cases were contained in annual reports.
The number of new HIV infections in 2005 is estimated to be between 2,300 and 4,500 - about the same as or slightly higher than in 2002 when approximately 2,100 to 4,000 were infected, said Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's chief public health officer.
More people are able to live with HIV thanks to treatments that have improved survival times, although new infections are on the rise, the agency said.
Prevention for at-risk groups
Men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs are most at risk for HIV/AIDS.
The number of heterosexual men and women infected through unsafe sex is also rising. Women now make up an estimated 20 per cent of Canadians infected with HIV, the report said.
Aboriginal people are over-represented in the epidemic; they are almost three times more likely to be infected with HIV than other Canadians.
Prisoners, at-risk youth, and people from countries where HIV is endemic or constantly occurring are also vulnerable.
A federal program launched in 2005 aims to increase awareness and promote prevention among people considered at risk.
"These estimates tell us that HIV/AIDS remains an issue of significant concern for Canada," said Health Minister Tony Clement.
"As part of our strategy for improving the health and quality of life of all Canadians, we need to look at how best to target current and continued federal investments."
From Aug. 13 to 18, Toronto will host the International AIDS Conference. The federal government will look to scientific and policy ideas presented at the conference to inform its epidemic management plan, Clement said.
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