Ontario Advisory Committee On HIV/AIDS Delivers 10-Year HIV/AIDS Strategy

Strategy Would Help Prevent New Infections and Improve the Lives of Those Living With HIV


January 25, 2017

The Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS (OACHA) has delivered a new 10-year HIV/AIDS strategy to Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. The report, entitled HIV/AIDS Strategy to 2026: Focusing Our Efforts: Changing the Course of the HIV Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade in Ontario, outlines a vision for an Ontario in which new HIV infections are rare and all people living with HIV lead long, healthy lives.

This new strategy builds on the important work already done by community-based HIV organizations and programs, researchers, people living with or at-risk of HIV and health care professionals committed to fighting this disease.

Over the past few decades, the number of new HIV diagnoses in Ontario has been trending downward – from 2,069 in 1990 to 842 in 2015. Of those living with the virus, it is estimated that more than 90 per cent who are receiving treatment obtain a suppressed viral load. In other words, the amount of HIV in their blood has been reduced to such a level that tests cannot detect it. This means the virus is under control, the person with HIV has the opportunity of a long life, and there is negligible risk of passing on the virus.

The HIV/AIDS Strategy to 2026 focuses on reducing new HIV infections even further and improving the health and well-being of people living with HIV. The report is the result of extensive consultations with people living with and at-risk of HIV/AIDS, service organizations, local public health units, HIV clinics, researchers and policy makers.

The strategy recommends two key strategic approaches:

  1. Work together with the communities most affected by HIV to increase the number of people living with HIV who are diagnosed early, linked to care and remain engaged in effective treatment that will prevent new transmissions.
  2. Increase access to services for people living with HIV infection by strengthening the capacity of community-based HIV/AIDS services and other key community partners to provide evidence-based services that support people with complex needs such as mental health and addiction care, housing, and supports for other social determinants of health. Reduce the social isolation that surrounds HIV by creating communities and a society free of HIV stigma, discrimination and other forms of oppression.

The report further recommends that Ontario adopt the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 targets with the following goals:

  • 90 per cent of people living with HIV are diagnosed
  • 90 per cent of those diagnosed are getting HIV treatment
  • 90 per cent of people receiving HIV treatment have an undetectable viral load (the amount of virus in their blood is so low tests cannot detect it, HIV is controlled, and the possibility of HIV transmission is negligible).

With this approach, people infected in their 20s, diagnosed early and engaged in care, can expect to live a lifespan approaching the average for the population as a whole, if they are otherwise healthy. By reducing the number of people living with HIV who are undiagnosed and by moving people more quickly into care and treatment, new HIV infections will also be reduced.

QUOTES

"I'd like to thank the Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS for the development of a new HIV/AIDS strategy for Ontario and for their ongoing work on implementing its recommendations. This work not only builds on global trends in HIV policy, but also offers innovations that would promote an integrated model of care and support to create better health outcomes for people living with HIV and those at highest risk of HIV, while preventing new HIV infections."
- Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

QUICK FACTS

  • Since the term AIDS first started being used in 1982, the number of reported cases in Ontario mushroomed in the late 1980s and early 1990s — from 336 diagnosed in 1985 to a peak of 2,069 in 1990.
  • HIV is a concentrated epidemic in Ontario, primarily affecting specific populations. As of 2014, there are an estimated 31,200 people living with HIV in Ontario.

For More Information

Call ServiceOntario, Infoline at:
1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free)
In Toronto, (416) 314-5518
TTY 1-800-387-5559.
In Toronto, TTY 416-327-4282
Hours of operation : Monday to Friday, 8:30am - 5:00pm