AIDS incidence continues to grow in London: St. Joseph’s experts point the finger at complacency

Dec. 01, 2011

It’s been about 30 years since AIDS mysteriously appeared on the health care scene. Since then, giant leaps have been made in scientific advances and understanding about the condition, yet the numbers of people infected are still growing around the world and in Canada.

London is not immune. The numbers are growing here too. Most disturbing is the condition is 100 per cent preventable, say experts at the Infectious Diseases Care Program (IDCP) of St. Joseph’s Health Care London. The culprit, they believe, is complacency.

“AIDS is no longer a death sentence and while that’s good news it has contributed to a lack of diligence and awareness of the risks,” says Brenda Done, ICDP nurse who has been treating AIDS/HIV patients for more than 20 years.

Since the mid-1980s, St. Joseph’s has blazed the trail in HIV treatment. Today, about 500 patients a year are seen at the IDCP where a team of 12 experts provide medical, psychiatric, nursing, social work, pharmacy, and nutrition services to patients across Southwestern Ontario, and education to professionals and the community.

Despite London’s active needle exchange program, the most significant increase in AIDS in London is being seen among intravenous drug users, says social worker Gloria Aykroyd. Five years ago, about 10 per cent of new referrals to the ICDP were intravenous drug users. That figure is now 20 per cent. In total, intravenous drug users make up 11 per cent of IDCP patients. Among other ICDP statistics are:

  • 50 per cent  of new referrals are immigrants
  • 26 per cent of patients are women
  • 49 per cent of patients are homosexual men
  • 13 per cent of patients are from HIV endemic countries
  • 89 per cent of patients are on antiretroviral therapies
  • The average age of IDCP patients is 48; the oldest is 82

In addition to treating patients in London, several members of the IDCP have volunteered in Africa over the years, offering education, diagnosis, care and treatment to people with HIV/AIDS and their caregivers. Last week, Done returned from her sixth trip, this time to Malawi where she worked in a 60-bed rural mission hospital. Caring for a population of about 45,000, the hospital’s outpatient clinic sees about 2000 people infected with HIV.

Here at home, Done and Aykroyd urge Londoners to get the facts, know how to protect yourself, take every opportunity to raise awareness, and show compassion. 

“You don’t know who among us is living with HIV/AIDS,” says Aykroyd.


For more information, please contact:
Dahlia Reich, Communication and Public Affairs
St. Joseph’s Health Care London
Phone: 519 646-6100 ext. 65294

About St. Joseph’s Health Care London
St. Joseph’s Health Care London is a leading patient care, teaching and research centre in Canada with a distinguished legacy of service to London, Southwestern Ontario and the veterans of Canada, dating back more than 130 years. St. Joseph’s five key role areas include acute/ambulatory care, complex care and veterans care, long-term care, rehabilitation and specialized geriatrics and specialized mental health care. Facilities and services including St. Joseph’s Hospital, Parkwood Hospital, Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care and Regional Mental Health Care London and St. Thomas are part of the St. Joseph’s family. Our research arm, the Lawson Health Research Institute, continues to direct their research to the development of new knowledge that is continually being applied directly to patient care. St. Joseph’s is affiliated with the University of Western Ontario.

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