HIV in Canada: A primer for service providers


Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men

Key Points

  • Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) represent approximately 2% to 3% of Canada’s adult male population.
  • An estimated 55.5% of all new HIV infections were in gbMSM in 2016 (incidence).
  • gbMSM are over-represented in the HIV epidemic in Canada.
  • An estimated 52% of people with HIV in Canada are gbMSM in 2016.

gbMSM represent approximately 2% to 3% of the adult male population in Canada. Based on this estimate there are approximately 345,284 to 517,926 gbMSM in Canada.

The 2016 estimates of HIV prevalence and incidence indicate that gbMSM continue to be the most affected group in Canada.

Fifty-six percent of all new HIV infections in Canada in 2016 were in gbMSM (incidence), equivalent to 1,202 infections in this population. This includes an estimated 1,136 new HIV infections attributed to sex between men in 2016 (52.5% of all estimated new infections) and an estimated 66 new HIV infections in men who have sex with men who also inject drugs (gbMSM-IDU) in 2016 (3%). For the category gbMSM-IDU, infection with HIV may have been caused by either of these behaviours, since both behaviours were present. HIV incidence has increased since 2014, when the number of new infections was estimated at 1,053 in gbMSM and 47 in gbMSM-IDU (1,100 new infections total).

At the end of 2016, an estimated 32,762 gbMSM had HIV (prevalence). This represents 52% of all people with HIV. The estimate includes 30,980 people whose HIV status was attributed to sex between men and 1,782 men who engaged in sex with men as well as injection drug use. HIV status could be attributed to either of these behaviours.


The epidemiology of HIV in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men – CATIE fact sheet

Summary: Estimates of HIV incidence, prevalence and Canada’s progress on meeting the 90-90-90 HIV targets, 2016 – Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)

Where is HIV hitting hardest? – CATIE infographic

HIV/AIDS in Canada – CATIE infographic

HIV in Canada – PHAC infographic

People living with HIV in Canada – CATIE infographic

New HIV infections in Canada – CATIE infographic


Public Health Agency of Canada. Summary: Estimates of HIV Incidence, Prevalence and Canada’s Progress on Meeting the 90-90-90 HIV targets, 2016. Public Health Agency of Canada, 2018. Available from: