HIV in Canada-Surveillance Report, 2016

Can Commun Dis Rep. 2017 Dec 7;43(12):248-256. doi: 10.14745/ccdr.v43i12a01.


Background: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continues to be a global public health concern, with 2.1 million people newly infected in 2015. Although many high-income countries have noted decreasing rates of HIV, between 2013 and 2015 Canada's rates had stabilized at 5.8 per 100,000 population.

Objective: To provide a descriptive overview of reported cases of HIV in Canada up until 2016 by geographic location, sex, age group, exposure category and race/ethnicity, with a focus on the most recent data.

Methods: The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) monitors HIV through the national HIV/AIDS Surveillance System (HASS), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and the Canadian Perinatal HIV Surveillance Program (CPHSP). HASS is a passive, case-based system that collates non-nominal data voluntarily submitted by all Canadian provinces and territories. Data were also received from the IRCC and the CPHSP. Data were collated, tables and figures were prepared, then descriptive statistics were applied by PHAC and validated by each province and territory.

Results: A total of 2,344 new diagnoses of HIV were reported in 2016 in Canada, with a cumulative total of 84,409 cases since 1985. The national diagnosis rate increased from 5.8 per 100,000 population in 2015 to 6.4 per 100,000 population in 2016. Saskatchewan reported the highest provincial diagnosis rate in 2016 (15.1 per 100,000 population). In 2016, 76.6% of reported HIV cases were among males. Adults aged 30-39 years old accounted for 28.7% of all reported cases. There was a similar age distribution of HIV cases between sexes with notable increases in the proportion of the 50 years and over age group over the past five years. The "men who have sex with men" exposure category continued to represent the largest number and proportion of all reported HIV cases in adults (44.1%). White (40.4%), Black (21.9%) and Indigenous (21.2%) race/ethnicity categories represented the largest proportions of cases.

Conclusion: In 2016, Canada saw a slight increase in the number and rate of reported HIV cases compared with previous years. Although the diagnostic rate was lower than in all years prior to 2012, it is the highest of the past five years. While a number of possibilities exist to explain this increase, further investigation and additional data are needed in order to determine the cause and significance.