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International News

Canada: Aboriginals, Blacks Hit Hardest by AIDS

March 17, 2003

Canadian aboriginals and blacks are experiencing the country's fastest-rising rates of AIDS, a trend being blamed on poverty and poor social conditions. "HIV has an uncanny ability almost everywhere in the world to find the most marginalized people in society," said Martin Schechter of the Canadian HIV Trials Network. Activists will cite the latest figures as they press for increased funding to combat HIV/AIDS during Commons health committee hearings this week.

Infection rates among aboriginals in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside are 40-50 percent, said Schechter, as high as those in places like Botswana and South Africa. "There's every indication from every data source we have that the problem among aboriginal people is on the rise," he added. "This epidemic is far from under control, it is moving relentlessly in vulnerable populations, and we are very far from having a cure," Schechter said.

The federal government's Canadian AIDS Strategy, launched in 1992, provides $42.2 million (US $28.5 million) annually to support AIDS prevention, research and treatment. Farah Mohamed, a spokesperson for Health Minister Anne McLellan, did not encourage expectations of increased funding. "The government of Canada and the minister of health take the strategy very seriously... but I think $42.2 million is a significant amount of money." She pointed out that funding is also provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian International Development Agency.

Aboriginals accounted for 14.1 percent of AIDS cases reported in the first half of 2002, up from 5.3 percent in 2001, and 10 percent in 1999, Health Canada figures show. The rate among blacks has also been rising and accounted for 15.6 percent of cases reported in the first six months of 2002. The proportion of cases among whites declined to 64.1 percent in the first half of 2002 from 87.5 percent before in 1993.

Back to other CDC news for March 17, 2003

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Adapted from:
Toronto Star
03.17.03; Dennis Bueckert, Canadian Press


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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