HIV in Canada: A primer for service providers


People who inject drugs

Key Points

  • An estimated 171,900 people injected drugs in Canada in 2016.
  • An estimated 14% of all new HIV infections were in people who use injection drugs in 2016 (incidence).
  • People who use injection drugs are over-represented in the HIV epidemic in Canada.
  • An estimated 17% of people with HIV in Canada in 2016 are people who use injection drugs (prevalence).

There were an estimated 171,900 people who injected drugs in Canada in 2016. This accounts for 0.7% of the Canadian population.

Of all the new HIV infections in 2016, an estimated 310 (14%) were in people who inject drugs. This includes an estimated 244 new HIV infections attributed solely to injection drug use in 2016 (11% of all estimated new infections) and an estimated 66 new HIV infections (3%) in men for whom either having sex with men or using injection drugs could have been responsible for the infection. HIV incidence has increased since 2014, when the number of new infections was estimated at 219 in people who inject drugs and 47 in gbMSM who also inject drugs (266 new infections total).

At the end of 2016 an estimated 17% of people with HIV in Canada may have acquired their HIV infection through injection drug use (10,986 people). This estimate includes 9,204 people (15%) whose HIV status was attributed to injection drug use and an additional 1,782 men (3%) whose HIV infection may have been due to either injection drug use or having sex with men because they reported both behaviours at testing.


The epidemiology of HIV in people who inject drugs in Canada – 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:

Jacka B, Larney S, Degenhardt L, et al. Prevalence of injecting drug use and coverage of interventions to prevent HIV and hepatitis C virus among people who inject drugs in Canada. American Journal of Public Health. 2019; in press.