Determinants of Health

To a large extent, factors such as where we live, the state of our environment, genetics, our income and education level, and our relationships with friends and family all have considerable impacts on health, whereas the more commonly considered factors such as access and use of health care services often have less of an impact.1

Our health – and the health of our communities – can be affected by a lot of different things in and around our lives.

It is easy to think that the quality of health-care services is central to our wellness. But relationships, income, education, where we live, pollution, green space and so much more can have huge roles in shaping a person’s health.

Safe and secure housing, jobs, adequate income support and access to health, social and addictions services are examples of social determinants that influence health and well-being.2

The realities of people’s everyday lives affect their health. Becoming sick or not is often beyond an individual’s control. It is unfair to blame someone for being sick. Often, what makes people most vulnerable are life events that aren’t easy to change. This is as true for HIV as it is for any other disease.

Health Canada has identified 12 determinants of health. The links below explain each one and how it might relate to women and HIV.


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1Determinants of Health, Health Impact Assessment, Health Canada, 2001
2Social Determinants of Health, Communicable Disease, Mental Health and Substance Use,British Columbia Ministry of Health, online as of June 2011