Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS/HIV)

Reporting Obligations

Laboratory confirmed cases of HIV must be reported to the Thunder Bay District Health Unit by fax, phone or mail.

  • Fax: (807) 625-4866
  • Phone: 625-5676 or toll-free at 1-888-294-6630, ext. 8318
  • Mail: 999 Balmoral Street, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 6E7



Community Outbreak - Thunder Bay - June 2019

A community outbreak of HIV was declared on June 25, 2019.Updates were sent to health care providers and are available below: 


Aetiologic Agent:

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus of which two types have been identified: type 1 (HIV-1) and type 2 (HIV-2). They are serologically and geographically distinct but have similar epidemiological characteristics. The pathogenicity of HIV-2 may be lower than that of HIV-1; they have genotypic and phenotypic differences. HIV-2 has lower disease progression and lower rates of mother-to-child transmission.

Clinical Presentation:

AIDS is a severe, life-threatening clinical condition and is an advanced HIV-related disease. This syndrome represents the late clinical stage of HIV infection resulting from progressive damage to the immune system, leading to one or more of many opportunistic infections and cancers of which bacterial pneumonia is one of the common presentations.

Symptoms of acute HIV infection may include fever, arthralgia or myalgia, rash, lymphadenopathy, sore throat, fatigue, headache, oral ulcers and or genital ulcers, weight loss, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Acute symptoms, if present, occur two to four weeks after the initial infection and last from one to two weeks or as long as several months.

AIDS is diagnosed when a person with HIV develops one or more “AIDS-defining” symptoms (see pages 2 and 3).

Modes of Transmission:

  • Contact with infected body fluids: sexual fluids, blood, and breast milk
  • The use of HIV infected-contaminated needles and syringes and some drug paraphernalia, including sharing by people who inject drugs
  • Transfusion of infected blood or its components, organ and tissue transplants (before 1985)
  • Contact of abraded skin or mucosa with body secretions such as blood, semen and CSF
  • The presence of another STI in either the source or the exposed person, particularly ulcerative lesions such as syphilis or genital herpes, increases the potential for sexual transmission of HIV.
  • Occupational exposure to HIV infection: percutaneous injury with a sharp object potentially contaminated with blood or other bodily fluid: mucous membrane exposure to blood or other bodily fluid
  • Vertical transmission from mother to infant during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding
  • While virus has occasionally been found in saliva, tears, urine and bronchial secretions, transmission after contact with these secretions in the absence of blood has not been reported

Incubation Period:

Variable: time from initial infection to detectable antibodies (window period) is usually 1-3 months. The time from HIV infection to diagnosis of AIDS has an observed range of less than one year to 15 years or longer.

Period of Communicability:

Not known precisely; begins early after onset of HIV infection presumably extending throughout life. Infectivity during the first months is considered to be high; it increases with viral load, with worsening clinical status and with the presence of other STIs.


Risk Factors/Susceptibility

The Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS has identified four populations at greatest risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS in Ontario, including men who have sex with men (MSM; includes gay, bisexual, and transgender men), African and Caribbean Ontarians, Aboriginal Ontarians, and people who use injection drugs. See Modes of Transmission for specific risk factors.


Diagnosis & Laboratory Testing

The diagnosis of HIV infection is based primarily on a positive serologic test. Persons with HIV infection may be totally asymptomatic. Therefore, serologic testing is recommended when there is a high index of suspicion (e.g., high-risk behaviour and/or suspicious clinical symptoms and signs). Persons may also present with specific opportunistic infections or other conditions indicative of underlying immunosuppression.

Testing Information & Requisition


Treatment & Case Management

The Canadian Guidelines on Sexually Transmitted Infections provides information related to: counseling, transmission, diagnosis, management, treatment, and follow-up of patients.


Patient Information

Elevate N.W.O. is the AIDS service organization (ASO) serving Northwestern Ontario.




  1. Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Infectious Diseases Protocol - Appendix 1 (2022) Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
  2. Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Guidelines on Sexually Transmitted Infections, evergreen edition.
  3. Heymann, D.L., Control of Communicable Disease Manual (20th Ed.), Washington, American Public Health Association, 2015.


Additional Resources

  1. CATIE. “Canada’s source for HIV and hepatitis C information.”
  2. Canadian AIDS Society publication. “HIV Transmission: Factors that Affect Biological Risk”, 2013.
  3. CATIE: "Canadian HIV Guidelines"
  4. CATIE: Open Online Courses for Service Providers (HIV and Hepatitis C)
Last Updated: