To estimate the number of prevalent and incident HIV infections in Canada in 2008.
We applied multiple methods to estimate national HIV prevalence and incidence in Canada, including the workbook method, two statistical modelling methods, and an iterative spreadsheet model.
The estimated number of people living with diagnosed or undiagnosed HIV infection (including AIDS) continues to rise, from an estimated 57,000 in 2005 to 65,000 in 2008. Nearly half (48%) of these HIV-infected persons were men who have sex with men (MSM) and 22% were women. An estimated 16,900 persons with prevalent infection (26% of total prevalent infections) were unaware of their HIV-infected status and this proportion varied from an estimated 19% of HIV-infected MSM, to 25% of HIV-infected people who inject drugs, and 35% of HIV-infected heterosexuals. An estimated 3,300 new infections occurred in Canada in 2008, which was about the same as the estimate of 3200 in 2005. Of those new infections, 26% were among women and 12.5% were of Aboriginal descent; in terms of exposure category, MSM continued to comprise the greatest proportion of new infections (44%) and heterosexuals who originated in countries where HIV is endemic comprised 16%.
HIV incidence in Canada is not decreasing. Aboriginal people and people from HIV-endemic countries continue to be over-represented in Canada's HIV epidemic. People unaware of their HIV infection are a priority for being tested and diagnosed to enable them to take advantage of care services and receive counselling to prevent further spread of HIV.