1 min

More funding could save lives

Report calls for new approach to HIV/AIDS

A $2.3 million investment over the next five years could reduce the rate of HIV/AIDS infection in the Ottawa area by 50 percent, according to a consultant’s report commissioned by the Ottawa Carleton Council on AIDS.

The report says that a concerted effort over the next five years will dramatically affect the rate of new infections and provide much-needed support for the estimated 2,670 people living with HIV in the city.

Ron Chaplin, the OCCA chair, says HIV/AIDS continue to wreak havoc on too many people. “All of our local agencies are strained to the limit, and I am not just talking about community-based agencies such as Bruce House or the AIDS Committee of Ottawa, but local hospitals, community health centers and doctors too,” he says.

Chaplin recognizes that it is time to take a pro-active approach to HIV/AIDS. “We have to take a more active approach to wellness and prevention. While medical advances have been remarkable, the consequences of infection remain severe and debilitating.”

The report recommends a three-pronged strategy to reduce the number of new infections in Ottawa.

1. To increase initiatives around prevention, harm reduction and wellness, focusing on youth, gay men, immigrants and refugees, injection drug users, women with HIV and families affected by HIV.

2. Adapt more programs and services to be more culturally appropriate.

3. Form a new Ottawa Coalition on HIV/AIDS, which will include other community agencies and leaders.

“This proposal represents a significant change to the way we currently work to address HIV/AIDS in Ottawa, but if this can do something to put a stop to rising infection rates then we want to work toward that change,” says Brent Oliver, executive director of the AIDS Committee of Ottawa.

The cost for treatment alone for each person with HIV is $9,000 a year per person and Chaplin says an investment now means savings later on for health care and service providers. “HIV is a preventable disease. A drop in new cases would mean a significant cost savings and the enhancement of many lives.”