Media Releases

Global Anniversary of AIDS indicates need for renewed public engagement in Canada

June 2, 2011

New HIV infections on the rise; Canadians’ condom use still unacceptably low

TORONTO, ON – Every eight hours, a Canadian contracts HIV. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first diagnosis of AIDS on June 5, 2011, the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) partnered with the Social Research Centre (SRC) at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and national polling firm Strategic Counsel to gauge Canadians’ knowledge and perception of the state of HIV and AIDS in Canada. The study revealed that most Canadians (93 per cent) believe they are knowledgeable about HIV and AIDS, yet only half of those surveyed consider condoms to be very effective in reducing the spread of HIV.

CANFAR is the only independent charitable foundation dedicated to eliminating HIV and AIDS through research. Over the past 24 years, CANFAR-funded research has been at the forefront of a number of research breakthroughs, including the discovery of a key component of a treatment that is keeping many with HIV alive today.

The study indicated that while Canadians who have had two or more sexual partners in the last year are more likely than those with only one partner to have used a condom the last time they had sexual intercourse, the majority – almost six-in-ten (57 per cent) of those with two or more partners still admit that they did not use a condom  the last time they had sexual intercourse.

“It is clear that Canadians’ attitudes have shifted in the past 30 years, but this hasn’t necessarily affected behavior,” said Christopher Bunting, president, CANFAR. “I find it surprising that so many aren’t using a condom to reduce the spread of HIV. It is critical that we as a nation understand the severity of this epidemic and engage in the fight against AIDS.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada indicates that there has been a 14 per cent increase in the number of people living with HIV in Canada from 2005 to 2008, yet the study shows that only 17 per cent of Canadians who were tested for HIV and AIDS were tested with the intention of finding out if they were infected.

“Studies show that condoms are 80% effective in reducing HIV sexual transmission among heterosexuals.  I was somewhat surprised that only 50% of Canadians view them as ‘very effective’ and that condom use among those with multiple partners is so low,” said Professor Liviana Calzavara, Director of the CIHR Social Research Centre in HIV Prevention at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. “Strategies to increase condom use must move beyond individual-level education and identify interventions aimed at changing norms and culture among youth and older Canadians”.

Canadians consider HIV and AIDS a serious health concern in Canada, yet only about eight per cent of Canadians have donated to an HIV and AIDS-related organization in the past year.

With young adults accounting for approximately 24 per cent of all people diagnosed with HIV and AIDS in 2007, youth education has been a priority for CANFAR. Most recently, CANFAR Youth Ambassador and Juno award-winning recording artist Keshia Chanté travelled to Kenya with a group of post-secondary school students to see first-hand the impact CANFAR-funded research has had on the developing world.



The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research is Canada’s only independent charitable foundation dedicated to eliminating HIV/AIDS through research. By funding promising Canadian HIV/AIDS research and spreading awareness through education campaigns, CANFAR is working to end AIDS globally. Since 1987, CANFAR has awarded $17 million to HIV/AIDS research projects. Visit for more information.


The CIHR Social Research Centre in HIV Prevention (SRC) is a not-for-profit Canadian network of social researchers, community, public health practitioners and policy makers committed to advancing HIV prevention efforts through novel approaches to social science research, capacity building and knowledge transfer and exchange (KTE).  Visit for more information.



The Strategic Counsel is a national public opinion and market research firm with offices in Toronto and Ottawa. Established in 1995, The Strategic Counsel provides a full range of quantitative and qualitative research services, analytic services and research-driven consulting services to a wide range of clients in both the public and private sector. Visit for more information.


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For more information, please contact:


Jessica Goldberg

Holly Bacchus
416-361-6281 ext. 231