If you have questions about HIV or any other topic about your sexual health visit HealthLinkBC, or talk to a registered nurse at the BC Centre for Disease Control who can provide you with the information or the referrals you need.
Aboriginal people are diverse and identified as First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. While they have been historically affected by various illnesses and diseases, Aboriginal people are now significantly over-represented in many areas. HIV/AIDS is one area where Aboriginal people are diagnosed in greater numbers than the non-Aboriginal population.
In Canada, Aboriginal people make up just over three per cent of the total Canadian population, however, they represent almost eight per cent of the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Canada.
There are many factors that may affect the health of Aboriginal people. They include social. economic and cultural factors such as lack of education; food insecurity; poverty; and inadequate housing.
However, some of the HIV statistics can be attributed to Aboriginal people having inadequate access to testing, diagnosis, care and treatment — and also having to experience the stigma that is associated with anyone seeking health care support for HIV.
Certain high risk behaviors have also played play a part in the growing numbers of Aboriginal people becoming infected with HIV/AIDS, including intravenous drug use and unprotected sex. Injection drug use (IDU), in particular, is believed to be a leading cause of increased transmission HIV rates among the Aboriginal population. Aboriginal women are at a greater risk of contracting HIV than non-Aboriginals, and Aboriginal youth are being diagnosed at a younger age than non-Aboriginal youth.
Education and greater understanding about HIV can help reduce the number of Aboriginal people being infected with the virus, and help eliminate the stigma associated with HIV. Culturally appropriate care and support from health care professionals, peers, family members, as well as their communities, can result in Aboriginal people with HIV living healthier, longer and more productive lives.
To find out about where to get HIV testing and follow-up support services, click here.
BC Centre for Disease Control - Chee Mamuk (Aboriginal Health)
Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN)
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