Is Complacency the New HIV crisis?

54% of Canadians aged 18-54 don't know their HIV status

MONTREAL, Dec. 1, 2016 /CNW/ - As Canadians mark the 29th World AIDS Day, a day for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died – a new issue of concern has appeared.

An omnibus survey conducted by Ipsos in October found that youth 18-29 who were sexually active with one or more partners over the past 12 months were more likely to be at risk for acquiring HIV than the older Canadians in the study (ages 30-54). This is likely as a result of having had multiple partners in the past 12 months, and being unaware of the status of all their partners. Among their beliefs was that good hygiene would prevent becoming infected with HIV, as was the belief that they knew their partner well enough not to think they needed to get tested. More than half of respondents surveyed had never been tested for HIV.i Thus, complacency and a lack of awareness, especially among young sexually active people stands to pose the greatest risk in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

According to 2014 data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, 474 youth between the ages of 15 and 29 were diagnosed with HIV, representing nearly one-quarter (23%) of all new HIV diagnoses that year.ii

"We're seeing the rate of new HIV diagnoses decreasing in Canada. However, there is a real danger of moving backwards in our progress if we become complacent in assessing our own personal risks of infection," said Christopher Bunting, President and CEO of The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR). "Although advances in medical treatment have made a profound impact on outcomes and quality of life, our concern now is that complacency will prevent people from taking the appropriate steps to have safe sex, particularly among population groups that are most affected by HIV."

"This data supports our belief that Canadians must become more aware of the risk factors involved in contracting HIV, and the need to know their HIV status and that of their prospective sexual partners," Mr. Bunting concluded.

"According to the Public Health Agency of Canada the number of people living with HIV in Canada is increasing, not decreasing with 21 per cent of people living with HIV unaware they are infected,"iii  said Sara Leclerc, General Manager for ViiV Healthcare in Canada, a company that is 100% devoted to HIV/AIDS. "Statistics like these show that we have a responsibility to promote greater awareness around gaps in understanding of HIV and how it is transmitted so that we can achieve the UN AIDS goal of 90-90-90: 90% of people living with HIV diagnosed – 90% of people diagnosed with HIV on treatment – 90% of those treated for HIV with an undetectable viral load."

Ms. Leclerc continued, "The critical message, no less important today than it was when HIV was first diagnosed over three decades ago, is that HIV transcends gender, sexual orientation, economic status and age. I cannot say it more sincerely or more often – know your HIV status. It is the only way to eradicate AIDS." 

About World AIDS Day
Established in 1988, World AIDS Day was created to highlight the enormity of the AIDS pandemic and call attention to a global responsibility to ensure treatment, care and support for all those living with HIV/AIDS.

The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) is the only national charitable Foundation who raises awareness to generate funds for research into all aspects of HIV and AIDS. Since its inception in 1987, CANFAR has awarded more than $18 million to Canadian AIDS research.

About ViiV Healthcare Canada
ViiV Healthcare is a global specialist HIV company established in November 2009 by GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV. Shionogi joined in October 2012. The company's aim is to take a deeper and broader interest in HIV/AIDS than any company has done before and take a new approach to deliver effective and new HIV medicines, as well as support communities affected by HIV. For more information on the company, its management, portfolio, pipeline, and commitment,

i Ipsos Omnibus survey; Sept. – Oct. 2016

SOURCE ViiV Healthcare

For further information: Media contact: Evelyn Yallen, energi PR, 416-425-9143 X 202, 416-806-4136 (C)

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