HIV on the decline in B.C., but not among gay and bisexual men
B.C.’s provincial health officer says that while we are making progress on reducing new HIV infections, gay and bisexual men are not experiencing the same reduction.
Dr. Perry Kendall released a new report today, showing a disproportionate number of new HIV diagnosis among gay and bisexual men, and a lack of improvement compared to other at-risk groups.
In 2011, gay and bisexual men accounted for 57 per cent of all new HIV infections and 45 per cent of all people with HIV in B.C.
“While many communities in British Columbia are seeing a dramatic decline in HIV infections thanks to harm reduction and prevention programs, and advancements in diagnosis and treatment, the sub-population of gay and bisexual men is not experiencing this reduction,” said Kendall.
The report contains several recommendations including developing a comprehensive provincial health strategy focused on gay and bisexual men; expanding access to HIV and STI testing; and a strategy to better meet to gay and bisexual men’s health care needs regarding mental health and substance abuse.
“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.”
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