Aboriginal leaders from across Canada gathered in Winnipeg Saturday to launch Aboriginal Aids Awareness Week.

The Canadian Aboriginal Aids Network held a luncheon at the Delta Winnipeg to discuss the high rates of HIV/AIDS in the aboriginal community.

Attendees heard the rates of infection among aboriginal people are more than three times higher than other Canadians.

“In 2011, for example, it’s estimated that 390 aboriginal people became infected with HIV, so basically one aboriginal person per day becomes HIV infected in Canada,” said Art Zoccole, the chair of the Canadian Aboriginal Aids Network.

In Manitoba in 2009, 27 per cent of HIV cases were among aboriginal people.

Zoccole said it’s important to break through the stigma associated with the disease and work to educate communities.

Of particular concern are aboriginal women, who account for nearly 50 per cent of newly diagnosed cases among aboriginal people. Non-aboriginal women comprise only 20 per cent of cases.

Zoccole said more programs and supports are necessary across Canada to battle the problem.

Aboriginal Aids Awareness Week runs until Dec. 5, and Saturday marked World Aids Day.