Statement from the Minister of Health and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health on World AIDS Day and Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week


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

December 1 marks World AIDS Day and the beginning of Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week. During this time, we remember those who we lost to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as we continue to show our support for those living with it by raising awareness, increasing our knowledge, and working to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV. The themes of this year's World AIDS Day, "Equalize", and Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week, "One Vision, Many Paths", serve as reminders that there are still significant inequalities holding back progress in ending the AIDS epidemic.

To end inequalities and inequities, we must acknowledge the impact HIV continues to have on communities struggling with social and economic challenges, as well as Indigenous People, gay, bisexual, other men who have sex with men, and people who use drugs. We must also recognize that many people diagnosed with HIV may experience mental health challenges, both as a result of the stigma surrounding HIV and the complex emotions that accompany a diagnosis. These can include shame, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

Tragically, COVID-19 impacted access to many services for sexually transmitted blood-borne infections (STBBI), including testing. As a result, in Canada, there were 1,722 newly diagnosed cases of HIV in 2021; an increase of 5% since 2020.

In 2020, Indigenous People represented nearly 10% of all people living with HIV in Canada, although Indigenous people made up only 5% of the total population in 2021. With data portraying this stark reality, Indigenous voices and experiences must be at the forefront of HIV prevention and care for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities. We must keep working together toward further incorporating traditional knowledge and culturally safe practices into our HIV health care approaches.

In addition, as community-based organizations remain vital in implementing local projects that improve access to STBBI prevention, treatment, and care, and enhance evidence-based harm reduction strategies, we are committed to continuing our work with communities to build effective programs.

Our government invests $33.4 million annually under the HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund and the Harm Reduction Fund, to support community-based organizations and projects that are at the front-line in preventing infections and improving access to STBBI treatment and care. This year, Canada invested an additional $17.9 million to make HIV self-testing more widely available, including in northern, remote and isolated communities across Canada, to help reach the undiagnosed as the first step toward connecting people to culturally-safe services.

Through these measures, Canada supports the global goal of ending HIV and AIDS as a public health concern by 2030. We continue to collaborate with many different partners in Canada, from governments at all levels to regional and local communities. Each partner plays a critical roles in engaging with people living with HIV, and those at risk of infection, to help meet their prevention, testing, treatment, and support needs.

During AIDS 2022, Canada proudly endorsed the Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) global declaration. U=U means that if an individual is on treatment and maintains a suppressed viral load, there is effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to others. Promoting the U=U message is one way we can reduce stigma and discrimination, which perpetuates inequalities.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the delivery of STBBI services, it has also contributed to promising advancements in science and innovative ways of connecting people to testing, treatment, prevention and care that help to collectively drive progress forward. Ensuring people in Canada have culturally-safe access to testing, treatment, and care for HIV and other STBBI is an important priority for the Government of Canada. There are many ways for individuals to get a HIV test, including health clinics, doctor's offices, at testing events, or an HIV self-test kit.

People living with HIV who are on treatment can live long, happy, and healthy lives. The first step to treatment and care is knowing your status. This week, we encourage you to get tested to know your status, and learn more about the facts of HIV to raise awareness and challenge HIV-related stigma. By working together, we can put an end to AIDS.


The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health


Guillaume Bertrand
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

Maja Staka
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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