Aboriginal people hardest hit by HIV in B.C.

Aboriginal people are more likely to contract HIV, become infected younger, receive treatment later and die sooner than other British Columbians, says the B.C. Ministry of Health. Aboriginal communities often struggle with problems that make both prevention of HIV infections and accessing treatment difficult, said Dr. Dee Hoyano, Vancouver Island Health Authority medical health officer. “We know aboriginal people are disproportionately more affected by HIV,” she said. First Nations members on Vancouver Island make up 5.8 per cent of the population, but account for 11 per cent of HIV cases...First Nations are Canada’s most vulnerable citizens and their HIV plight is complicated by the fact that responsibility for their health care is shared by federal and provincial governments, said Libby Davies, an NDP MP from Vancouver, who is federal Opposition health critic. “HIV/AIDS in the aboriginal community is a very serious issue, but this is something the federal government has direct responsibility for in terms of aboriginal people on reserves,” she said.