Foreward: Population-Specific HIV/AIDS Status Report: People living with HIV/AIDS

Foreword

The Public Health Agency of Canada, with the support of its many partners, is pleased to release this status report as part of a series of reports Footnote 1 intended to summarize current knowledge about the impact of HIV/AIDS among key populations in Canada. Communities, governments, public health practitioners, non-governmental organizations, researchers, and others are encouraged to use this report to inform the future direction of HIV/AIDS policy, programming, and research to positively affect the health and well-being of people living with HIV/AIDS (PHA).

This series of status reports was initiated to support the actions set out in The Federal Initiative to Address HIV/AIDS in Canada Footnote 2, the Government of Canada's framework for federal investments in HIV/AIDS, and to provide a comprehensive evidence base for other partners and stakeholders involved in the Canadian response. Launched in 2005, the Federal Initiative identifies the need for more effective interventions and improved HIV/AIDS prevention, research, diagnosis, care, treatment and support initiatives for specific populations at risk of HIV and AIDS. These populations include gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who use injection drugs, people from countries where HIV is endemic, Aboriginal peoples, people in prisons, youth at risk, women, and PHA.

These reports use a determinants of health approach to examine vulnerability to, and resilience against, HIV infection. Determinants of health are the range of social, economic, environmental, and personal factors that influence the health status of individuals and populations. They contribute to vulnerability for HIV infection and continue to affect the health and quality of life of PHA. This series of reports supports the Agency's efforts to identify and address health disparities and influence the determinants of health. (1)

This report is timely because issues that highlight the increasingly complex needs of PHA have emerged in the past decade. While treatment has had a positive impact on the life expectancy and quality of life of most PHA, it has also created new challenges in managing their health over the course of their lives, including workplace issues, choices about reproduction, and aging with HIV. Stigma and discrimination remain key challenges for PHA, and, for many, are compounded by other forms of discrimination, such as homophobia, racism, and sexism.

A national working group with expertise in research, epidemiology, community development, policy and program development, and lived experience guided the development of this status report. The involvement of PHA has been instrumental in preparing this report and reflects the Agency's commitment to the principle of Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GIPA). The working group's input and advice have ensured that the report presents the most current, relevant, and innovative research and responses that exist in Canada today.

This report provides a detailed overview of key issues affecting PHA in Canada. As is the case in any work of this nature, limitations were encountered in the data gathering, analysis, and reporting phases. The Agency welcomes comments on the report to assist with the development of future population-specific HIV/AIDS status reports.

After more than 30 years of collective commitment and investment, HIV/AIDS continues to be a major public health challenge that requires a concerted, collaborative response. Examining the underlying factors and conditions that affect the vulnerability, resilience, inclusion, and the quality of life of PHA is key to understanding how best to structure an effective response to HIV and AIDS. It is with this objective in mind that this report was prepared.

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