A growing number of Manitobans are being diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, a Winnipeg conference for prairie health service providers heard Tuesday.

There were more than 100 new cases of people contracting the virus in 2008, up from 82 recorded in 2007, according to figures provided by Winnipeg’s Nine Circles Community Health Centre (NCCHC).

That represents an increase of about 25 per cent.

The number of people who contract HIV is expected to climb again in 2009, but the organization said Tuesday it would not release hard numbers because they are still considered preliminary.

"Right now, it looks like a significant increase, definitely more than anticipated," said Sané Dube, a health educator at NCCHC.

Many people newly diagnosed with the virus are often aboriginal or new immigrants, Dube said. New cases include primarily those in which the virus was contracted through drug use or through sexual transmission.

Dube she said she's at a loss as to why Manitobans don't seem to be getting the message to protect themselves from HIV infection.

"People may know the general facts of HIV, but when it comes to tangible steps in terms of actually protecting themselves, they don't follow those ways," Dube said.

Dube added that rates of HIV contraction in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are higher than in the rest of Canada.

Statistics provided to the conference Tuesday by the Manitoba government show:

  • From 1985 to 2007, the total number of diagnosed HIV cases in Manitoba was 1,477.
  • Women represent 25 per cent of all Manitoba HIV cases since 1985.
  • In the last 10 years, women accounted for one-third of all new provincial HIV cases.
  • The age of the majority of those testing positive was between 20-39 years.
  • Of the 82 new provincial HIV cases in 2007, 55 were male and 27 female.