December 8, 2011
A report released in conjunction with World AIDS Day finds an estimated one in 120 Toronto adults are HIV-positive. The number of people living with HIV/AIDS throughout Ontario rose 31 percent between 2003 and 2008. Though gay men continue to comprise the largest number of patients, women, aboriginal people, and immigrants are seeing case increases, according to the study, "Facing the Future Together."
Dr. Kevin Gough, of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, and Stephanie Karapita, CEO of the HIV/AIDS specialty hospital Casey House, authored the report. The face of the epidemic is changing, creating challenges for the province's health care system, they said. Advanced treatment means people with the virus can live longer, but they may have more health-related or other issues to deal with.
"The good news is that HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence," said Gough, infectious-diseases director at St. Michael's. "But we're seeing that as people age with HIV/AIDS, their health care needs frequently escalate and can become very disabling."
One-half of Ontario's HIV-positive population is expected to be 50 or older by 2015, said the report. And despite that graying trend, Gough and Karapita warned of increasing rates among Toronto youths. "More than 1,000 people are diagnosed with HIV each year in Ontario," they wrote. "Alarmingly, in Toronto, more than a quarter of these individuals are under the age of 30."
"Two-thirds of the HIV cases in Ontario are in the [Greater Toronto Area] so as you get more outside the GTA, fewer and fewer people have exposure to HIV," said Karapita.