How widespread is HIV/AIDS?

The Government of Alberta’s released Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) incidence numbers are: Alberta STI Annual Report 2012.

CATIE has a great page that lists national epidemiology.

How do you get HIV?

  • Having vaginal or anal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom
  • Having oral sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or a dental dam
  • Sharing sex toys with someone who has HIV
  • Take part in any other activities that include contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluid
  • Sharing needles or other equipment (water, cooker, filter, etc.) to inject drugs like cocaine, heroin, or steroids with someone who has HIV
  • Sharing needles or ink to get a tattoo
  • Sharing needles or jewelry to get a body piercing
  • Sharing acupuncture needles

There are five body fluids which have enough HIV in them to infect someone:images (1)

  • Blood
  • semen (including pre-cum)
  • vaginal fluids (including menstrual fluids)
  • rectal fluids
  • breast milk

If you think there is a risk you have been infected with HIV, you should get tested.

You can’t get it through:

  • Talking, shaking hands, working or eating
  • Hugs or kisses
  • Coughs or sneezes
  • Donating blood
  • Swimming pools
  • Toilet seats or water fountains
  • Bed sheets or towels
  • Forks, spoons, cups, food
  • Insects or animals

Do I have to disclose my HIV Status to someone I am going to have sex with?
CAANS recommends that anyone living with HIV disclose their status to their potential sexual partners. The law is unclear, however there are a increasing number of criminal cases in Canada, and worldwide where people are getting charges such as aggravated assault or aggravated sexual assault for not disclosing their HIV status.

CATIE wrote an update for their Managing Your Health resource and Chapter 21 on HIV Transmission and the criminal law is a great resource.

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is the best source of information for HIV/AIDS criminal law.

What are the symptoms of HIV?

A few people, but not all, will get flu-like symptoms (fever, sore throat, swollen glands) in the first two weeks after infection.

How can I prevent HIV?condom on
Practice safer sex:

  • Use a latex or polyurethane condom or an insertable/female condom correctly, every time you have vaginal or anal sex.
  • Use a condom or dental dam correctly every time you have oral sex.
  • Use only water-based lubricants with latex condoms (Oil-based lubricants like Vaseline can weaken a latex condom and cause it to break.)
  • Choose non-penetrative forms of sexual stimulation, like masturbation, sensual massage, phone sex or cybersex.

How to put an insertable/female condom on:

female condom on


Practice safer injecting:

  • Use a new needle and new supplies (water, cooker, filter, etc.) every time you inject.
  • Never share needles or supplies with anyone else.
  • Practice universal precautions

Practice safer inhalation:

  • Everyone should have their own pipe, or at the very least their own mouthpiece
  • Use several screens instead of brillo
  • Clean your pipe regularly
  • Use chapstick

More information about safer drug use is available here.