January Review of What’s Hot in HIV Research

The New Year has certainly come in like a gale-force wind, with many things to consider as the HIV/AIDS research world ponders next moves. Dissemination, translation and exchange of new findings continues to shape the way that we understand HIV in our country, and this month’s “review of what’s hot” shares some new reports and findings that will surely have impact.

  1. Epidemiology is literally defined as “what’s upon the people.” In the HIV/AIDS world, we use epidemiological data as tool to understand patterns in HIV infections so that we can generate response. Late last year, the Public Health Agency of Canada released HIV and AIDS in Canada: Surveillance Report to December 31st, 2011, which presents an overview of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Canada, based on case reports of HIV and AIDS submitted by all provinces and territories. The report assesses the state of HIV and AIDS in Canada by identifying trends among populations demarcated by sex, age group, race/ethnicity, exposure category and geographical location, in addition to reporting on mortality in Canada due to HIV/AIDS. This 2011 report shows a slight decrease of 3.9% in new cases of HIV in Canada, with 23.3% of new cases among females, and 48.6% of new cases in adults (over 15 years of age) as being among gay/men who have sex with men. While these numbers can only tell one story of how HIV is affecting the population, they often form the basis of policy and funding decisions, and can help determine where more research is needed to better understand changes in the epidemic.
  2. HIV and aging continues to be a hot topic. With HIV evolving into a more manageable chronic illness, people with HIV are now living into their 50s and 60s; at the same time, a growing number of people are being diagnosed with HIV at later ages. Given these trends, significantly more people living with HIV are, or will be, 50 years of age or older. Canadian health research, policy, and practice must adapt to the “greying” of HIV. The Ontario HIV Treatment Network has published a report from their scoping review on HIV and aging, the goal of which was to systematically review and synthesize the literature on HIV, aging in several health-related domains, including physical, mental and sexual health, adherence to medication, access to health services and social participation. The report is available online at Evidence Informing the Intersection of HIV, Aging and Health – A scoping review.
  3. The impact of food (in)security on people living with HIV/AIDS has been a hot topic for several years in British Columbia, although it has been listed mostly as a “concern” rather than something that we’ve found a solution for. Yet, research has been underway that will help us learn more about how access to healthy, appropriate food impacts the wellbeing of people living with HIV and AIDS in our province. Recent findings presented by Dr. Aranka Anema of UBC’s Faculty of Medicine and the the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS show that Recent studies in British Columbia (BC) suggest that the prevalence of hunger, considered the most severe form of food insecurity, is elevated among HIV-positive and at-risk populations. A poster presentation of these findings, which includes health policy considerations, can be downloaded here, and a more lengthy PowerPoint presentation is also available here. And, more research findings on this topic are on their way, as the data collection phase of the Food Security Study has come to an end and analysis has begun. The BC arm of this study will be meeting in early March to develop a knowledge translation and exchange plan, which will of course include disseminating results through the Pacific AIDS Network and other avenues, with the hope of achieving impact.

Andrea LangloisQuestions? Feedback? Get in touch!
Andrea Langlois
Community-Based Research Manager
[email protected]