By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
Health officials in Thunder Bay, Ontario have declared an HIV outbreak after a recent spike of cases in May and June were reported in the homeless/under-housed population in the city.
Since January 1st, 8 cases have been reported with 2 additional cases under investigation. The total number of new HIV diagnoses in the entire health unit area in 2018 was 11.
“The HIV outbreak, especially with the concurrent tuberculosis outbreak, is a crisis situation impacting individuals, families and communities already experiencing significant burden associated with infectious disease, mental health, and addiction issues as well as broader social, historical and systemic issues”, says Dr. Janet DeMille, Medical Officer of Health for TBDHU.
The Health Unit is working on an enhanced HIV/TB strategy to guide public health work in this area. As well, ongoing engagement of partners will strengthen a community-wide approach that considers prevention, testing, harm reduction and improving access to health care and other services for people.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks cells that help the body fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases. It is spread by being in direct contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV, most commonly through sharing injection drug equipment or unprotected sex. If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection that occurs when the body’s immune system is badly damaged because of the virus.
HIV cannot be cured. However, effective treatment options are available that can reduce the virus to undetectable levels at which point transmission doesn’t occur. The general population is not at increased risk due to this outbreak.