Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week, which is scheduled every year from December 1 to December 5 beginning on World AIDS Day – December 1, is an opportunity to:
- Increase awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS.
- Establish ongoing prevention and education programs in Aboriginal communities.
- Address common attitudes that may interfere with prevention, care and treatment activities.
- Reduce HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.
HOW DOES HIV AND AIDS AFFECT ABORIGINALS IN ALBERTA?
- In general, Aboriginal people experienced HIV at rates about 3.6 times higher than other Canadians in 2008. (1)
- Aboriginal people living in Alberta make up 14% of the First Nations population in Canada; and 22% of the Métis population live in Alberta. (2)
- Aboriginal people are disproportionately represented in newly diagnosed HIV cases
- From 2000 to 2009, Aboriginals made up the second largest group of HIV cases with known ethnicity in Alberta. (3)
- Of the 219 new HIV cases reported in 2009, 23% of the cases in Alberta were Aboriginal. (4)
HIV diagnoses are growing among Aboriginal people in Alberta
- Proportion of newly diagnosed HIV cases in Aboriginal peoples accounted for 27.4% of newly diagnosed cases in 1999, 40% in 2002, and 18% in 2009. (5)
The Aboriginal population is more vulnerable to contracting HIV and AIDS because of unique factors and social determinants of health
- A person’s vulnerability [to HIV infection] increases or decreases based on
- access to stable housing,
- early childhood development (e.g. history of child abuse),
- physical environments (e.g. geographically isolated communities, prison environments),
- access to health services,
- support networks and social environments (e.g. homophobia, HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination),
- a history of sexual violence, and,
- for this [Aboriginal] population in particular, racism and the multigenerational effects of colonialism and the residential school system. (6)
(1) Public Health Agency of Canada, Population-Specific HIV/AIDS Status Report: Aboriginal Peoples, 2008 at 19, [PHAC].
(2) PHAC at 4 to 5.
(3) Government of Alberta, HIV and AIDS in Alberta: 2009 Annual Report, 2010retrieved at: http://www.health.alberta.ca/documents/STI-HIV-AIDS-Report-2009.pdf on October 20, 2011 at 4 [Annual Report].
(4) Government of Alberta, Alberta Sexually Transmitted Infections and Blood Borne Pathogens Strategy and Action Plan 2011-2016, 2011 retrieved at: http://www.health.alberta.ca/documents/STI-BBP-Plan-2011.pdf on October 20, 2011 at 1.
(5) “ at 10.
(6) PHAC at vii.
Please visit Canadian AIDS Aboriginal Network for more information https://caan.ca/en/