Topic Overview

HIV and AIDS can affect anyone. Worldwide, an estimated 33 million people are living with HIV or AIDS.footnote 2 In Canada, about 69,000 people have been diagnosed with HIV.footnote 1

Since the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) became widespread in 1996, the incidence of AIDS has decreased. Factors responsible for the decline in the incidence of new AIDS cases include:footnote 3

  • Fewer people are becoming infected with HIV today than in the early 1980s.
  • Improved treatments for HIV infection. ART slows the rate at which HIV multiplies in the body. This helps keep a person's immune system healthy longer, which may slow the rate at which opportunistic diseases (such as pneumonia) develop.
  • More effective treatments are available to prevent HIV-related infections.



  1. Public Health Agency of Canada (2009). Selected surveillance tables to June 30, 2009. HIV in Canada. Available online:
  2. United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), World Health Organization (WHO) (2009). AIDS Epidemic Update: December 2009. Available online:
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). HIV transmission rates in the United States—CDC Fact Sheet. Available online:


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine

Current as ofMay 22, 2015