• Main Office: 511 Pelissier Street, Windsor, ON N9A 4L2 | Satellite Office: 67 Adelaide Street South Chatham, Ontario N7M 4R1
  • 1-800-265-4858

Resources

Welcome Service Users

On this page you will find resources for Service Users and Service Providers that can aid in your quest for additional information about populations most at risk, newly diagnosed or currently living with HIV & hepatitis C.

Education

Educating the community is key to reducing HIV and Hep C-related stigma and discrimination and dispelling myths and misconceptions that exist within our communities.

Doyouknow2

Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment (CAAT)

CAAT is a coalition of more than 30 Ontario based organizations from the legal, health, settlement and HIV/AIDS sectors. It was formed in 1999 to improve treatment and service access for marginalized people with HIV/AIDS. Since its inception, CAAT has been at the forefront of education, research, service coordination and advocacy on issues related to HIV, immigration and access.

HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO)

HALCO is a charitable not-for-profit community-based legal clinic that provides free legal services for people with HIV/AIDS who live in Ontario, Canada.

Opioids Toolkit

Health Canada opioid resources as part of an opioids toolkit

Hello Ontario

Check out the new resource, HelloOntario.info, which was created for people who are new to Ontario and who have been diagnosed with HIV or are at risk of acquiring it. Comprising a website and pocket guide, the resource provides newcomers with information to help them access HIV prevention, testing, care and support services. It includes important information about the status of HIV in Ontario, how HIV may (or may not) impact their application to live in Canada, settlement & legal services, health care services and medication access, social programs and services, and more. Both the website and the accompanying pocket guide are available in English and French.

CATIE

CATIE is Canada’s online source for the most up to date HIV and hepatitis C information.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are the most frequently asked questions of our staff by service users.

I’m newly diagnosed. What now?

A positive HIV antibody test is scary news but it’s not a death sentence. Many people are alive and well 20 years or more after testing positive for HIV. A positive test result is an important medical message that may save or extend your life. Whether you took the test or not, sooner or later you would have learned of your HIV infection status. If you learn by testing, you have a chance to slow or prevent some of the possible medical consequences. If you didn’t get tested, HIV would have announced itself at some point in the form of an infection or damage to your immune system. But if you waited for the disease to announce itself, many of your best medical options may already be lost.

Most testing services provide counseling to help people handle the news. The real work, however, is up to you. Given the right attitude and the right information, HIV infection can be managed like any other chronic illness, one which some people seem able to survive for decades. Getting informed and taking charge of your health is the first step towards managing your condition.

Where can I get free condoms?

Free condoms are available at both AIDS Committee of Windsor offices through our Needle Syringe Programs. You can also access free condoms at various sexual health clinics around the city. Below is a list of a few locations:

– Windsor-Essex County Health Unit Sexual Health Clinics (Windsor & Leamington)

– Chatham-Kent Public Health

– University of Windsor Student Health Services

– Windsor-Essex Community Health Centres

HIV & disclosure; who do I need to tell, and when?

Who do I need to tell?

The decision to disclose your HIV positive status can be a struggle. In order to avoid the risk of unnecessary disclosure, you should be really cautious of who you disclose to. Therefore before deciding to disclosure consider the following:

– Who is trustworthy and will be supportive if negative things happen to you, such as the loss of close friends, family, etc.

– Healthcare providers, such as doctors or dentists where disclosure of your HIV positive status may result in you receiving better holistic care.

Read more on The Positive Side

When and where should I tell?

There is no specific time and place that you need to disclose, whenever or wherever you feel is suitable. However if you are about to engage in condomless sex with a partner, you are obligated by law to disclose your HIV status before having sex.

Law & Disclosure

There are laws, such as the Canadian Criminal Law that requires an HIV positive person to disclose their HIV status to their sexual partner. There are also laws to protect someone who is HIV positive from discrimination because of their status.

How soon should a person get an HIV test after they’ve had unprotected sex?

The period after infection but before an HIV test can be positive is called the window period. It’s the time that the immune system usually takes to make antibodies against HIV, but tests differ in how early they are able to detect HIV antibodies. Although most HIV tests look for these antibodies, some look for the virus itself. For most HIV tests the window period is 3 to 8 weeks.

The decision to get an HIV test is up to you. Having unprotected sex does not automatically put you at risk for HIV infection. Several factors have to occur for you to possibly contract HIV. See the HIV transmission section of the site.

For a list of HIV testing sites in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent visit the Testing Locations section of the site. The locations listed are just a few of the many places in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent where you can receive a free HIV test. You can also speak with your health care practitioner, or go to the closest medical clinic in their community.

What’s PEP & PrEP?

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP): Antiretroviral (ART) medications used immediately after a potential exposure to HIV to decrease the risk of HIV infection. Types of exposures include:

– Occupational exposure: oPEP

– Non-occupational exposure: nPEP

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP): ARVs used in high-risk individuals before exposure, to prevent HIV.

– Oral ARVs ~ PrEP

– Topical agents (vagina, rectum): microbicide

Click the links below for more information about PEP & PrEP

www.actoronto.org/Prep

www.actoronto.org/pep

www.actnow.ca

What is HIV viral load?

HIV viral load is the amount of HIV (or number of virus) in the bodily fluids of someone living with HIV. It is measured in the blood as part of routine clinical care. A higher viral load is associated with a higher risk of HIV transmission. Research shows that successful HIV treatment can reduce the viral load to “undetectable” levels and this can significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission.1

Source: 1CATIE . “HIV viral load, HIV treatment and sexual HIV transmission”

If someone tests positive for HIV, should they access antiretroviral therapy (ART) right away?

Before taking treatment, most commonly known as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) there are some things that might affect your life and need to be considered. We highly recommend self-checking according to this checklist.

The following are the most frequently asked questions of our staff by service providers.

How many people are living with HIV in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent?

We know that there are at least 350 people living with HIV/AIDS (PHAs) in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent, since these individuals receive primary care from the Windsor Regional Hospital HIV Care Program. 116 PHAs also seek support from ACW. However, provincial estimates report that 21% of PHAs do not know they are infected, and only 52-60% are linked to care. This brings the estimated number of PHAs to just over 710 (2012 estimate).

Where can I refer a service user to get tested for HIV?

For a list of HIV testing sites in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent visit the Testing Locations section of the site. The locations listed are just a few of the many places in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent where someone can receive a free HIV test. You can also encourage your service users to speak with their health care practitioner, or go to the closest medical clinic in their community.

What services does the AIDS Committee of Windsor offer?

The AIDS Committee of Windsor provides support, education and outreach services for people at risk of, or living with HIV or AIDS. Our services span the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent counties through two offices located in downtown Windsor and downtown Chatham respectively. For complete details about all of our programs and services visit the Programs’ section of our site.

Does your agency provide clinical services to HIV positive individuals?

While we do not provide clinical services, we do provide a wide array of support services to assist HIV positive people who are newly diagnosed or those that have been living with the virus for some time in achieving optimal health and well-being. Some of these services includebut are not limited to, client accompaniment, home and hospital visits, advocacy and wellness calls. For a full list of services visit the PHA Client Support Services section of our site.

Do you know of a doctor or list of doctors that I can refer an HIV positive service user to?

The AIDS Committee of Windsor has an established relationship with the Windsor Regional Hospital HIV Care Program. Some of the doctors and staff at the HIV Care Program have been assisting HIV positive service users with their medical needs for over 25 years. The privacy and well-being of each service user is of outmost priority. To contact the HIV Care Program, call (519) 254-6115.

If the services provided by the HIV Care Program do not meet the needs of an HIV positive service user you are assisting,contact our PHA Client Support Services to speak with a staff member regarding their specific needs.  

If a client discloses their HIV positive status to me, is it okay if I discuss their status with a co-worker or supervisor?

There is currently no legislation or case law obligating HIV positive people to disclose their status to service providers including their doctors, nurses, dentists, surgeons, paramedics or any other health-care professionals. Whether or not a person decides to disclose their HIV status is a personal choice. Disclosing one’s HIV status can be very difficult. If someone chooses to disclose their HIV status to you, it’s important that you treat this information with the utmost privacy. It’s always best practice to obtain consent from an individual before sharing any personal information including their HIV status.

Health-care professionals: Generally, health-care professionals do not require a service users’ express consent (i.e., either stated verbally or in writing) to disclose their health information to other health-care professionals for the purpose of providing or assisting in providing care. This practice is called sharing information within the “circle of care.” In many provinces, consent will be considered implied in such circumstances, meaning you won’t have to ask for consent.1

1 Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, (2014). “Living with HIV, Know Your Rights. Disclosure as a patient.

What does Harm Reduction mean?

Harm reduction is a range of practical strategies and ideas focused on reducing the harmful consequences associated with drug use and other risky health behaviours. The principle of harm reduction is grounded in social justice and emphasizes respecting the rights of an individual to choose while addressing the inequalities of health and well-being in the drug using community.

Harm reduction strategies, surrounding drug use, recognizes that abstaining from drugs may not be realistic or even desirable for everyone. Harm reduction strategies are community-based, user-driven, non-judgemental and address systems that isolate and marginalize individuals.

The Key Issues Related to Harm Reduction and Drug Misuse Include:

– Improving access to services by providing sterile, single-use supplies

– Educating individuals about safer drug use practices to reduce risky behaviour

– Reducing the risk of overdose through distribution of prevention kits

– Preventing transmission of blood borne viruses and pathogens between individuals i.e. HIV, Hepatitis C and B and various sexually transmitted infections        

This content was sourced from the Ontario Harm Reduction Distribution Program website. For complete details regarding harm reduction programs in Ontario visit www.ohrdp.ca.

What's a Needle Syringe Program?

Needle syringe programs (NSP), or needle exchange programs (NEP) are community based programs rooted in the harm reduction philosophy aimed at reducing the risk factors surrounding injection drug use and the spread of communicable viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis C. Needle syringe programs distribute unused needles and associated paraphernalia at no cost to service users. For more information about the ACW’s needle syringe program check out the Harm Reduction section of the site.

Which populations are most impacted by HIV?

In Ontario, the HIV epidemic disproportionately affects specific populations. Populations that are more vulnerable to HIV infection include: gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM); African, Caribbean, and Black (ACB) Ontarians; Aboriginal Peoples; people who use injection drugs (PUD); and women who are either members of high-risk populations or engage in HIV risk activities with them. Other groups that have a greater vulnerability include: people who use drugs through means other than injecting, transwomen and transmen, people who are incarcerated, youth, and aging populations.

A Provincial Approach

Affiliated provincial initiatives and organizations working on addressing the social determinants of health and achieving better health outcomes for populations most at risk of or living with HIV and Hepatitis C.

Southwestern Ontario AIDS Service Organization Alliance

Access to Care

Listed below are some clinics and online resources in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent that may be able to assist you with accessing care regarding your sexual health and or HIV related needs.

Translate »