Canadian AIDS-Related Deaths Continue to Fall, Statistics Canada Reports
The number of people who died of AIDS-related complications in Canada in 1999 fell from 485 the year before to 431, its lowest level since Canada began tracking AIDS-related deaths in 1987, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday, the Toronto Globe & Mail reports. The numbers continued a four-year trend in declines that experts attribute to the introduction of antiretroviral drugs in the mid-1990s. The number of AIDS-related deaths fell 26% from 1995 to 1996 after the introduction of the drugs and continued to decline by 52% and 22% in 1997 and 1998, respectively. However, the overall HIV infection rate has not changed and experts are worried that they could see a resurgence in new infections. "One concern is complacency -- that the drugs may be so effective that people aren't using protective measures, either with respect to needles or sexual contact, as well as they should be," Dr. Jonathan Angel, an infectious disease physician at Ottawa Hospital, said. "The important thing is not to imply the issue of HIV infection is over and dealt with," he added. The Statistics Canada report also notes that although AIDS-related deaths have declined overall, men continue to be disproportionately affected; 365 men and 66 women died of AIDS-related causes in 1999 (Walton, Toronto Globe & Mail, 5/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.