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