SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

Women living in Ontario have higher HIV rates than other Canadians

A study to assess serious pregnancy and delivery complications shows that women in Ontario have higher rates of HIV than any other immigrants or women born in Canada.

“We are planning to do additional studies to examine the maternal health of refugee women in Ontario – both examining less severe maternal morbidities among refugee women in general as well as examining the potential for excess less severe maternal morbidities among refugee mothers with HIV,” Susitha Wanigaratne, epidemiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital’s Centre for Research on Inner City Health, said.

Refugee women were 34 percent more likely to have complications -- including blood clots, bleeding and HIV -- during pregnancy and delivery.

“The excess rates among refugee women (compared to both other immigrants and Canadian-born women) can be partially explained by two changes to Canadian immigration policy in 1991 and 2002, which expanded policy to include more humanitarian efforts,” Waingaratne said. "Canada declared in 1991 that people living with HIV/AIDS were not a danger to public health and safety, lifting restrictions on HIV-positive immigrants and refugees. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act was introduced in 2002. The act lifted restrictions for refugees with greater health care and social service needs."

Refugee women are 22 percent more likely to experience these complications than immigrants.

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