HIV infection numbers may be on the decline in Saskatchewan but they are on the rise in First Nations communities.

According to provincial numbers, there were 177 new HIV cases in Saskatchewan in 2012, a decrease of five per cent from 2011.

However, Dr. Ibrahim Khan with the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch says HIV numbers on First Nations reserves make up a significant number of the newly reported cases in the last few years.

“Percentages would be, of the total numbers in Saskatchewan, 75 to 80 per cent cases would be Aboriginal ethnicity,” he says.

Khan says there were about 96 new HIV cases reported on-reserve between 2011 and 2012 which is roughly double the numbers for 2009 and 2010.

He adds there are a number of reasons for the increase.

“High risk lifestyles, intravenous drug users, we do see that as a factor being represented through the epidemiological statistics. Also, access to care is another issue that impacts on…”

Khan says the province has recently expanded its HIV testing in on-reserve communities to seven new locations and it is hoped increased access to this testing will lead to a decrease in First Nations infection numbers.

Overall, HIV infection rates in the province have been on the decline since 2009.

Khan was speaking at the Prairies HIV Conference in Saskatoon on Monday morning.