What is HIV/AIDS?

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV attacks the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness and leaving infected people vulnerable to opportunistic infections and cancers. The median time from infection to AIDS diagnosis now exceeds 10 years. AIDS is fatal.

HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, needle-sharing, from an infected mother to an infant during pregnancy, delivery and through breast feeding, and occasionally through occupational exposure in the health care setting.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is actually several epidemics, occurring in specific populations. Although these epidemics spread at different rates, the social factors and conditions which lead to the spread are similar. The virus itself changes quickly, mutating, creating new strains which present challenges in detection, prevention and treatment. No cure or vaccine exists. New treatments are very costly and it is too soon to measure their full effect.

Source: Santé Canada, November 11, 2002

The Changing Face of HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS is also a growing problem for youth in Canada. The median age of those becoming infected has dropped dramatically from 32 years in 1982-83 to 23 years in 1986-1990, and many young Canadians are becoming infected in their teens.

Source: Santé Canada , 11 november 2002

AIDS with yong people

According to the most recent UNAIDS report, an estimated 10.3 million people age 15-24 years are living with HIV/AIDS, and half of all the new infections that are occurring worldwide are occurring among young people.

Source:Division of HIV/AIDS Epidemiology & Surveillance, Centre for Infectious Disease Prevention & Control, Health Canada