Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on World AIDS Day


December 1, 2022 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada

Today marks World AIDS Day and the beginning of Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week. These events provide an opportunity to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, support those living with HIV, and remember the people we have lost. The theme of World AIDS Day, "Equalize", urges people worldwide to address the inequalities that are holding back progress in ending AIDS, while the theme of Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week, "One Vision, Many Paths," calls for holistic and tailored approaches to prevention, treatment and care for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

HIV continues to be a public health concern in Canada. According to national HIV estimates, there were an estimated 62,790 Canadians living with HIV at the end of 2020. This means that for every 100,000 Canadians, about 170 were living with HIV. In 2021, there were 1,722 newly diagnosed cases of HIV reported with the highest number of new diagnoses for people aged 30-39.

Last week, from November 22 to 29, National HIV Testing Week highlighted the importance of testing as a critical pathway to prevention and treatment. The first step to receiving treatment and care for HIV is knowing your status. There are many different places where you can get a free HIV test, including health clinics, doctor's offices, or at testing events. Some community organizations provide on-site testing and offer HIV self-test kits. These self-test kits offer a safe, reliable, anonymous and confidential way for people to know their status. For more information on where to get tested, contact your local health department or visit

We acknowledge that HIV disproportionately affects certain populations struggling with social and economic inequities, including the impact of colonization for First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. The tremendous community leadership from these same communities is where we see incredible progress being made to provide for the social and health needs of the community. When we position community leaders and people with lived experience as experts to respond to the needs of their communities, our shared objective of eliminating HIV and AIDS in Canada is within our reach.

This past summer, I had the privilege of attending the 24th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2022) in Montreal. The conference brought together scientists, health care providers, community leaders, advocates, and people with lived experience of HIV, from around the world to get the global HIV response back on track. Canada showcased its progress and commitment to HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections by endorsing the global Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) declaration. U=U is based on the scientific evidence that shows when people living with HIV take medication and maintain undetectable viral load they can live long healthy lives without the fear of passing it on to a sexual partner. U=U is an important tool as it not only challenges stigma and discrimination, it helps increase uptake in HIV testing, treatment and achieving viral suppression thereby helping us reach our global goal of ending HIV and AIDS as a public health concern by 2030.

Health professionals play a vital role in putting the U=U message into practice. I encourage health care professionals to learn more about U=U and create safe, stigma-free spaces where people are more comfortable talking about their HIV status, learning about the benefits of treatment, and receiving the care they need.

Significant progress has been made, but more work still needs to be done to get to zero HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination. During World AIDS Day and Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week, I encourage you to get informed, check out awareness resources, and get tested to know your HIV status.


Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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