Facing the Future: The Evolution of AIDS
Since Casey House opened, there has been a dramatic evolution in the face of HIV/AIDS, while at the same time, the issue of HIV/AIDS is fading from people’s consciousness. Sadly, the need for Casey House is greater than ever.
Today the number of people with HIV/AIDS in Toronto is rising. Each year in Ontario, more than 1,000 people are newly infected with HIV. There are approximately 27,000 people with HIV/AIDS in Ontario, two-thirds of whom are in Toronto.
- Infection rates are near the same levels as the early days of the epidemic, and people with HIV/AIDS are living longer.
- One in 120 adult Torontonians test HIV positive, with care needs that will escalate as they grow older.
- By 2015, the majority of people with HIV/AIDS will be over 50 years of age. Fifty per cent of our clients are now over the age of 50.
While gay men continue to represent the majority of new infections, there have been sharp increases in infection rates in a number of other groups. For example:
- The fastest growing group is young adults under the age of 30 – both homosexual and heterosexual in orientation – representing another 25 per cent of new infections.
- Twenty per cent of people living with HIV/AIDS are women, many struggling to raise families on their own while trying to maintain their own health.
- The vast majority of people treated at Casey House are living in poverty, are homeless or under-housed and living on the margins of society, facing isolation and stigmatization.
- Mental illness and addictions are also significant health issues.
The Greying of AIDS
As a result of antiretroviral (ARV) medication, we are now witnessing the “Greying of HIV/AIDS”. While ARVs increase lifespan, they can also create serious side effects, including accelerated aging and years of unpredictable illness, infections and chronic diseases layered on top of HIV/AIDS.
HIV/AIDS services and health care are fractured and often inaccessible. Many people give up as they search for help or sit on long waiting lists for specialized care. By the time they arrive at Casey House, their health is in a state of crisis.