HIV in Canada: A primer for service providers


Indigenous people

Key Points

  • Indigenous people made up 4.9% of the Canadian population in 2016.
  • Indigenous people accounted for an estimated 11% of new HIV infections in 2016.
  • Indigenous people accounted for an estimated 10% of all Canadians with HIV in 2016.

Indigenous people made up 4.9% of the Canadian population in 2016. They are over-represented in the HIV epidemic, representing about 11% of all new HIV infections (245 new infections) in 2016. HIV incidence has increased in Indigenous populations since 2014, when an estimated 217 new HIV infections occurred.

HIV disproportionately impacts Indigenous Canadians, some communities much more than others. There were an estimated 6,055 Indigenous people with HIV at the end of 2016, accounting for 10% of HIV infections in Canada (prevalence). The overall national HIV prevalence estimate for Indigenous Canadians in 2016 was 0.36%, which is low, but about twice the prevalence for Canada.

Caution should be used, however, when drawing conclusions from the numbers reported for Indigenous peoples. An adequate description of the HIV epidemic among Indigenous people in Canada requires accurate and complete access to ethnicity data. Ethnicity data are not available for all provinces and territories. As a result, only data from certain provinces and territories are used when examining HIV diagnoses data on Indigenous people.

In Canada, Indigenous populations are very diverse, with communities that reflect variations in historical backgrounds, language and cultural traditions. These communities are disproportionately affected by many social, economic and cultural factors (determinants of health) that impact their risk for HIV.


The epidemiology of HIV 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

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: