HIV and AIDS in Ontario
What are HIV and AIDS?
HIV is a life-threatening illness caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus is transmitted when an HIV negative person engages in high-risk activities with an HIV positive person, primarily during unprotected vaginal or anal sex (i.e., sex without a condom), and when people share needles or other equipment that have become contaminated with HIV-infected blood to take drugs. The virus can enter the blood stream through these activities and begin to attack the body's immune system.
Once someone is infected with HIV, the virus begins to attack healthy cells in the blood, which weakens the person's immune system. When enough cells have been killed and the person's ability to fight off other illnesses and infections is severely threatened, he or she will be diagnosed with AIDS. HIV positive people can be re-infected with other strains of the virus, which further weakens the HIV positive person's immune system.
The HIV Epidemic in Ontario
The HIV epidemic in Ontario continues to grow. HIV affects some communities more than others. Communities most affected by HIV/AIDS are :
- gay and bisexual men
- Ontarians from Africa and the Caribbean
- people who inject drugs
- Aboriginal Peoples
- women who are represented in the above groups or engage in high-risk activities with them (i.e. share needles or other drug equipment and/or engage in sexual activity).
There are over 26,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Ontario. While treatment has made it possible for people to live longer with HIV, there is still no cure for AIDS. An estimated 9,670 people with HIV/AIDS have died since the onset of the epidemic.
Ontario's approach to HIV/AIDS includes prevention, education, testing treatment, support services and research.
For immediate assistance and referral, please call the AIDS & Sexual Health Infoline at :
Toronto : 416-392-2437