A new study shows the number of those who don’t know their HIV status could be even higher
Despite scientific advances in the treatment of HIV/AIDS over the past 30 years, questions remain about just how much Canadians know about the once deadly virus, and how this influences their behavior. The results of a new Leger Study provide an opportunity to think about the challenges that remain in eradicating the HIV virus, as well as to celebrate what has been accomplished in the disease’s relatively young medical history.
Do Canadians worry about contracting the HIV virus? Do they see the need for being tested? Do they ask about the HIV status of their sexual partner outside of a monogamous relationship? Are there gender differences when it comes to attitudes and behaviors related to HIV/AIDS? What about discrimination towards those living with HIV?
According to the Leger study conducted among 1512 people from all across Canada between October 26 and October 29, 2015:
- Though an overwhelming majority of Canadians surveyed say that knowing their sexual partner’s HIV status is important before having unprotected sex, 90 percent think it is important to know the HIV status of a sexual partner before having unprotected sex, while only 55 percent say they have always known before engaging in sexual activity;
- Canadians don’t realize that with appropriate and ongoing treatment, people living with HIV can achieve normal life expectancy: Only 54 percent of Canadians surveyed believe HIV to be a treatable, chronic condition. Only 28 percent of Canadians surveyed believe that effective treatment greatly reduces the chance to transmit the virus;
- Only 56 percent of Canadians surveyed would be comfortable sharing a kitchen/bathroom with someone who is HIV positive, highlighting the stigma and discrimination which still exists toward people living with HIV;
- Only 19 percent of Canadians surveyed realize that there are parts of Canada where the rates of HIV infection are higher than Africa.
The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) commented on the survey data, saying: “This survey confirms the need for greater HIV awareness among Canadians, particularly focused on the importance of knowing their HIV status through regular testing.” said Christopher Bunting, President and CEO of CANFAR. “Although there are more Canadians living with HIV now than ever before – thanks to advances in research and medication, we still have much work to do.”
Bunting continued, “There continues to be widely held beliefs that are simply false when it comes to HIV. We need to do more to address these misconceptions and combat the stigma those living with HIV face every day.”
“Working closely with the HIV/AIDS community has given us a keen understanding of the issues and priorities that are desperately needed to make sure that no one with HIV/AIDS is left behind,” said Sebastien LeRoux, Country Manager for ViiV Healthcare in Canada, a company specializing uniquely in HIV/AIDS. “ViiV Healthcare’s unique focus allows us to address the challenges of HIV, prioritize, and work to provide essential and innovative solutions in treatment and care for people living with and affected by HIV in Canada.”