The Manitoba HIV Program provides information, specialized care, treatment, and support to approximately 1,285 people living with HIV across the province through two Winnipeg-based sites: Nine Circles Community Health Centre and the Health Sciences Centre outpatient clinic, and one Brandon-based site: 7th Street Access Centre.
In the first quarter of each calendar year, chart audits are conducted for all clients who entered into care in the previous year. The Program then releases a report that briefly describes the clients who entered care and provides an overview of how the Program provides care and support to Manitobans living with HIV. The report also suggests some areas for improvement within the Manitoba HIV Program and highlights key funding and resource gaps in the province.
Highlights from the 2016 Report
Late diagnosis and presentation to care remain a concern
- Late diagnosis and delaying the start of HIV treatment can have negative impacts on the health of the individual and can increase the chances of passing HIV to sexual and injecting partners. In 2016, 66% of clients who entered HIV care not on medication had CD4 counts below 350. This suggests that many clients are diagnosed with HIV at an advanced point in their illness, often presenting to the program quite ill and requiring complex intervention and treatment.
HIV testing needs to become more routine
- Routine HIV testing can help people become aware of their HIV status before they get sick. In 2016, only 6% of the population of Manitoba received an HIV test. The Manitoba HIV Program is committed to working with regional health authorities, family doctors and other health care professionals to develop safe and non-judgmental environments for all people seeking HIV testing.
We need to address factors that create and perpetuate inequities
- In Manitoba, people who identify as Indigenous and African/Caribbean/black are disproportionately affected by HIV. In 2016, 31% of clients entering care self-identified as African/Caribbean/black (ACB) and 39% identified as Indigenous (First Nation, Inuit and Metis). The Manitoba HIV Program continues to develop partnerships with organizations that provide front line services to affected communities across the province.
Early treatment makes a difference but some people face barriers
- Starting HIV treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis reduces health complications and is an important HIV prevention strategy because it decreases the chances of transmission. The Manitoba HIV Program strives to start all interested clients on treatment as soon as possible, but recognizes that there are several reasons why this is not always possible. Some people face social and geographical barriers and many face financial barriers associated with paying for medication. Provincially-funded HIV medications would make treatment more accessible, improving health outcomes for individuals and supporting prevention efforts in the community.