Foundational values

The response to HIV has been powerful and passionate! Principles and values that are foundational to our past, current and ongoing response include:

  • Resilience
  • Greater Involvement and Meaningful Engagement of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GIPA/MEPA)
  • Harm reduction
  • Social justice/Human rights
  • Integrated, person-centred prevention and engagement in care
  • Choice and self-determination
  • Privacy and confidentiality
  • Respect for diversity
  • Evidence, excellence and innovation.


The makeup of the sector

Individuals, AIDS Service Organizations, clinics, community partners, and capacity building organizations all have unique, complementary and integrated roles in the prevention, engagement and care cascade, the theoretical framework that underpins the HIV response in Ontario.

Volunteers also play a vital role in the work we do. In 2017-18, organizations reported 5,330 volunteers giving 203, 570 hours of their time. That’s equivalent to 98 full-time employees!


Critical data

We have made great strides in producing critical data on HIV in Ontario to help us understand and respond strategically. Current highlights include:

  • In 2016 and 2017 (combined) , more than half of new HIV diagnoses were in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men Between 2013 and 2017, the total number of new diagnoses increased by 17%. However, when ‘out-of-province’ diagnoses were removed, this increase was smaller and the number of diagnoses decreased from 2016 to 2017.
  • The number of diagnoses is about 4 times higher for males compared to females.
  • Age at diagnosis is younger for males.
  • The most common priority populations differ by sex.

For more information about HIV in Ontario, visit the Ontario HIV Epidemiology and Surveillance Initiative.


What are the priority populations?

Not all individuals in Ontario are equally at risk of HIV infection. We recognize five populations in Ontario most affected by HIV. Most people living with HIV in Ontario are part of one or more of these populations, and most new infections occur within these populations. A range of systemic and other social drivers, as well as biological and behavioural factors lead to increased risk within these populations.

  • Gay, bisexual, and other MSM*, including trans men (GBMSM)

  • African, Caribbean, and Black communities (ACB)

  • Indigenous peoples

  • People who use drugs, including people who use injection drugs (PWID)

  • At-risk women, including trans women

* MSM stands for men who have sex with men, a proprietary term coined by epidemiologists in the 1990s to study the spread of sexually transmitted infections in male populations based on behaviour, without regard to issues of self-identification.


Number and rate of new HIV diagnoses by Health Region, Ontario, 2016 and 2017
 Northern Ottawa Eastern Toronto Central East Central West South West
 Year 2016 2017 2016 2017 2016 2017 2016 2017 2016 2017 2016 2017 2016 2017
Number of new HIV diagnoses 21 21 85 77 26 19 427 496 97 120 107 87 100 86
Rate of new HIV diagnoses per 100,000 2.6 2.6 8.7 7.7 3.1 2.2 14.9 16.9 2.3 2.8 4 3.2 6.1 5.2
Note: New diagnosis data provided by the Public Health Ontario Laboratory; population data from Statistics Canada
Ontario Community HIV and AIDS Reporting Tool (OCHART). View from the Front Lines, (2018): Annual summary & analysis of data provided by community-based HIV/AIDS services in Ontario.Toronto, ON: AIDS and Hepatitis C Programs, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Public Health Agency of Canada, Ontario Region (2018).


What does this mean locally / for your organization?

We suggest you chat with your supervisor and/or colleagues and learn about the following:

  1. What is the history of HIV and the HIV response in our community?
  2. Who are the individuals, communities and community partners that we work closely with?
  3. What does the prevention, engagement and care cascade look like in our community?
  4. If my role (or my personal interest) requires deeper knowledge in some of these areas, how might I gain that knowledge?
  5. What does the epidemiological data look like in our local area?

Remember, there’s no question too small or “obvious”! We think you’ll find your colleagues tremendously eager to share their knowledge.


Learn more here