British Columbia

HOW DOES HIV AND AIDS AFFECT ABORIGINALS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA?

  •  In general, Aboriginal people experienced HIV at rates about 3.6 times higher than other Canadians in 2008.  (1)
  • Aboriginal people living in British Columbia make up 19% of the First Nations population in Canada; and 15 % of the Canadian Métis population live in British Columbia.  (2)

Out of reporting ethnic populations in BC, the Aboriginal population has the highest number of newly testing positive for HIV

  • Aboriginal people only represent 5% of the total BC population, yet they account for 15% to 17% of new positive HIV tests each year.  (3)
  • Every year there is approximately 55 to 70 new positive HIV test (or new diagnoses of HIV) among Aboriginal people.  (4)
  • Aboriginal females make up 30% to 40% of the cases among the total female population in BC, and Aboriginal males make up 10% of the cases among the male BC population.  (5)

The Status Indian population in BC experience disproportionate death rates due to HIV

  • Death rates due to HIV for the Status Indian population has more than doubled since 1993 (0.8 per 10,000 in 1993 to 1.9 per 10,000 in 2006), while the rate for other residents has decreased significantly in the same time period (0.8 per 10,000 in 1993 to 0.2 per 10,000 in 2006).  (6)
  • High death rates due to HIV among Status Indians in British Columbia may be due to high rates of injection drug use among the Aboriginal population.  (7)
  • In Canada in 2005, 53% of HIV cases among Aboriginal people were due to injection drug, compared to just 14% of new HIV infections among other Canadians.  (8)

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
    • income,
    • education,
    • unemployment,
    • 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),
    • gender,
    • a history of sexual violence, and,
    • for this [Aboriginal] population in particular, racism
    • and  [Aboriginal] population in particular, racism and  the multigenerational effects of colonialism and the residential  school system.  (9)
  • Aboriginal people are disproportionately represented in populations that are medically eligible for highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) medication, but do not access it:
  • those who are addicted to drugs;
  • the mentally ill;
  • the homeless; and,
  • those who live in remote communities without  access to  expert care.  (10)
  • A mistrust of medical institutions and lack of culturally safe and supportive care may also influence the high death rates of Status Indians in BC.  (11)

(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)  Office of the Provincial Health Officer, Pathways to Health and Healing, 2nd Report on the Health and Well-being of Aboriginal People in British Columbia: Provincial Health Officer’s Annual Report 2007 at 147 [PHO].

(4)  “

(5)  “

(6)  “

(7)  “

(8)  PHAC at 24.

(9)  PHAC at vii.

(10)  PHO at 147 to 148.

(11)  “

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