Aboriginal people in Canada have suffered from the ongoing effects of cultural denigration, racism, and colonialism. Today, the legacy of this experience is apparent: On average, Aboriginal people have higher rates of incarceration, suicide, drug and alcohol use, poverty, and poor health than the non-Aboriginal population of Canada. These are all factors that must be considered in responding to HIV/AIDS in Aboriginal communities.
In 2001, we signed a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network to collaborate on work related to Aboriginal people and HIV/AIDS, and we continue to seek new partnerships with other Aboriginal organizations across Canada. Our efforts focus on these key legal and policy issues:
- Discrimination against Aboriginal people and people living with, or affected by, HIV/AIDS is still a problem in Canada. Many Aboriginal people experience both forms of discrimination.
- Jurisdictional divisions complicate the funding sources and effectiveness of HIV/AIDS services and programs for Aboriginal people. First Nations, Inuit and Métis people experience different levels of service, depending on where they live and, for First Nations people, whether they are part of treaties or members of a band.
- HIV testing and confidentiality of test results in Aboriginal communities are not of consistent quality and accessibility.