Burden of HIV infection among aboriginal injection drug users in Vancouver, British Columbia

Am J Public Health. 2008 Mar;98(3):515-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.114595. Epub 2008 Jan 30.


Objectives: We sought to examine whether there were differential rates of HIV incidence among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal injection drug users in a Canadian setting.

Methods: Data were derived from 2 prospective cohort studies of injection drug users in Vancouver, British Columbia. Using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazards regression, we compared HIV incidence among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants.

Results: Overall, 2496 individuals were recruited between May 1996 and December 2005. Compared with that of non-Aboriginal persons, the baseline HIV prevalence was higher among Aboriginal persons (16.0% vs 25.1%; P<.001). Among participants who were HIV negative at baseline, the cumulative HIV incidence at 48 months was higher among Aboriginal persons (18.5% vs 9.5%; P<.001). In multivariate analyses, Aboriginal ethnicity was independently associated with elevated HIV incidence (relative hazard=1.59; 95% confidence interval=1.12, 2.26; P=.009).

Conclusions: Aboriginal persons in Vancouver had a significantly elevated burden of HIV infection, which calls for a culturally sensitive and evidence-based response. Policymakers in other settings with at-risk Aboriginal populations should seek to avert similar public health emergencies by being proactive with evidence-based HIV-prevention programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Canada
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / etiology
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Incidence
  • Indians, North American*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Groups
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk-Taking
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications*


  • Illicit Drugs