HIV/AIDS in Ontario today
Despite continued high rates of HIV infections, most Ontarians know little about the realities of HIV/AIDS treatment today. The HIV/AIDS crisis has widened in scope and complexity, presenting new and significant challenges for the health care system that demand an immediate and innovative response.
More people live with HIV today than ever before—not just around the world but right here in Toronto. Today, more than 1,000 people continue to be diagnosed with HIV each year in Ontario.
Alarmingly, in Toronto, more than a quarter of these individuals are under the age of 30.
And those numbers are likely much higher: Dr. Robert Remis of the Ontario HIV Epidemiologic Monitoring Unit at the University of Toronto estimates that as many as one-third of Ontarians infected with HIV are as yet undiagnosed, unaware of their infection.
Combine ongoing high infection rates with the longer life expectancy for people living with HIV/AIDS thanks to advances in treatment, and the result has been that the population of people living with HIV in Ontario grew 31 percent from 2003 to 2008 alone, and is continuing to grow.
HIV/AIDS remains a pressing and growing urban health issue for the City of Toronto.
A recent Ipsos Reid survey of more than 900 Ontarians confirmed that 75 percent of respondents knew “nothing at all” or “just a little” about HIV/AIDS treatment and care. However, Ontarians are concerned and compassionate. Despite the ongoing stigma reported by people living with HIV/AIDS today, nine out of 10 survey respondents agree that society has a “moral obligation” to provide compassionate treatment to people living with HIV.
Women and HIV
HIV infection rates among women have remained high for some years now. This is driven by the immigration rates of women from countries where HIV is endemic (representing more than half of new infections among women). Women now account for one-quarter of all new adult positive HIV tests in Ontario.
Aboriginal people and HIV
Aboriginal people comprise less than 4 percent of Canada’s population but make up over 12 percent of all new HIV infections.
Aboriginal women are hardest hit, representing roughly half of all positive tests among Aboriginal people as compared with a ratio of one in five for women of other ethnicities.The average age at diagnosis for an Aboriginal person tends to be younger, with high rates for youth aged 15-29 years.
The Greying of HIV/AIDS
An individual who is aging with HIV becomes more susceptible to specific chronic conditions associated with older age such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, dementia and some cancers. Individuals aging with HIV require coordinated care that addresses the complexity of their HIV disease, layered on top of the illnesses that can arise due to aging.
A Snapshot Of HIV/AIDS In Toronto
- Every day, two Torontonians are newly infected with HIV
- More than 1 in 4 new HIV diagnoses in Toronto are among young people under 30
- 65% of new infections in Toronto occur in men who have sex with men
- Women represent 1 in 5 new HIV diagnoses in Toronto