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HIV/AIDS infection rate in Prince George drug users among highest in Canada

One in six of those survey infected with HIV/AIDS


Prince George has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS infection among injection drug users in Canada, according to a new national study.

The rate is down from five years ago, but one of the lead researchers says it is still unacceptably high. 

Russ Callaghan is with the Northern Medical Program at UNBC, and helped lead the study. He says the work was done by speaking with injection drug users at the needle exchange in downtown Prince George in 2012. They found one in six people tested positive for HIV.

"It was one of the highest estimates of HIV across the country in the other twelve or thirteen sites."

He also says the people they spoke with also moved around a lot across the north. 

"It's a particular concern for us because some of the smaller cities in northern B.C. don't have the same kind of services, so we think that may be an important mechanism for the spread of HIV."

Callaghan says Northern Health is making progress getting more vulnerable people tested, and noted the rate was down two percent from a survey in 2008.

However, he says more needs to be done, starting with making sure at-risk people have a stable place to live.

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