HIV infection declining in B.C., but still remains high for gay and bisexual men

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HIV AIDS / Shutterstock

British Columbia’s Ministry of Health has released a new report revealing that while the number of new HIV infections has considerably decreased, the rate still remains high for the province’s gay and bisexual male populations.

This group comprises of 57 per cent of all new HIV infections and 45 per cent of all people known to be living with the virus.

The report emphasizes the need to reengage gay and bisexual male in a new way in order to further tackle the prevalence of HIV and new infections. Over the last 10 years, there has been a lack in improvement with reducing the rate amongst gay and bisexual men compared to other exposure groups.

“This report recognizes that HIV is a complex issue, and to prevent infections we need to shift our focus to the underlying drivers of the epidemic in our society, including the continued stigma related to both HIV and sexual orientation,” said Dr. Mark Gilbert, physician epidemiologist at BC Centre for Disease Control and co-author of the report. “This information and the recommendations provide a clear path to reduce HIV infection among gay and bisexual men in B.C.”

The series of drivers of the HIV epidemic include awareness of HIV status, access to appropriate health-care, HIV treatment, systemic challenges to HIV prevention, marginalization, stigma, racism, sexual network patterns, sexually transmitted infections, and sexual behaviour.

The Ministry of Health, B.C. Centre for Disease Control and advisory groups contributed to the report and made recommendations for immediate action to reduce the epidemic of HIV among gay and bisexual men. This includes:

  • creating a comprehensive provincial health strategy for gay and bisexual men
  • developing a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education strategy
  • improving and expanding access to timely HIV and sexually transmitted infection diagnosis, treatment and support for gay and bisexual men
  • developing ways to better meet gay and bisexual men’s health care needs related to mental health and substance use

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Image: Ministry of Health

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Image: Ministry of Health

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Image: Ministry of Health

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Image: Ministry of Health

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Image: Ministry of Health

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Image: Ministry of Health

 

Featured Image: HIV via Shutterstock

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