Manitoba HIV infection rates rise
Local health officials concerned by the rising trend
HIV is not yesterday’s issue in Manitoba, according to a new report.
In an update released by the Manitoba HIV Program, infection rates rose in the province in 2010 with 102 new cases, compared with 99 in 2009 and 66 in 2007.
Local health officials are concerned by the rising trend in the province and in much of Canada. It comes as the United Nations reports that the global infection rate is falling.
Winnipeg’s Nine Circles Community Health Centre is launching a new public awareness campaign on Monday to draw attention to the persistent problem here.
"HIV affects people of all races, sexual orientations, socio-economic status and professions," said Mike Payne, Nine Circles’ executive director. "The campaign’s goal is to encourage Manitobans to spread awareness about HIV and most importantly to get tested."
The campaign will feature ads on radio and on city buses and billboards. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter will also be used to get the message out.
Currently, there are more than 65 000 Canadians living with HIV.
The 2010 Manitoba HIV study also shows how HIV in Manitoba is changing. A decade ago the hardest hit communities in Manitoba were gay men or men who have sex with men. In 2010, 63 per cent of newly diagnosed Manitobans contracted HIV through heterosexual sex. Also of interest was that over 40 per cent of the newly diagnosed were over 40 years old.
Many people assume that HIV is an illness primarily affecting youth, and many Manitobans wrongly believe that HIV cannot affect them, experts say.
A 2005 study by the Public Health Agency of Canada revealed that one in three HIV positive Canadians do not know they are living with HIV.
Nine Circles Community Health Centre is a community based non-profit centre specializing in HIV prevention and care. It is one of two sites for the Manitoba HIV Program.