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Aboriginal health and well-being

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Two particularly pressing concerns for Aboriginal peoples today are access to adequate housing and their overall health. Compared with the general population, the percentage of Aboriginal peoples living in overcrowded housing is five to six times higher on reserves and in the North. Poor housing conditions allow diseases such as tuberculosis to spread.

In 2005, the tuberculosis rate was 27 active cases per 100,000 in Aboriginal peoples compared with 5 active cases per 100,000 in the Canadian population. Of the 1,600 active tuberculosis cases reported in Canada in 2005, 19% of the patients were Aboriginal peoples, 13% were non-Aboriginal Canadian-born and 63% were foreign-born.

HIV/AIDS rates among Aboriginal peoples is an ongoing concern, especially for Aboriginal women and youths. From 1998 to 2005, women made up 47% of all new HIV diagnoses among Aboriginal people, compared with 21% among non-Aboriginal people. Moreover, Aboriginal people receive a diagnosis of HIV at a younger age than non-Aboriginal people—one out of three Aboriginal persons newly diagnosed with HIV is under 30 years of age. By contrast, one out of five non-Aboriginal persons newly diagnosed is under 30.

Higher rates for diabetes mellitus among Aboriginal peoples is also of great concern. In 2001, 11% of Aboriginal adults on reserves had been diagnosed with diabetes, compared with 8% of First Nations adults off reserves, 6% of Métis, 2% of Inuit and 3% of the general population. High rates of diabetes are linked to key health determinants such as income, employment levels, education, social conditions and access to health care.