2013 OHTN Annual Research Conference

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Jay Browne was a driving force in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Ontario. Appointed Chair of the Ontario Public Education Panel on AIDS (OPEPA) in 1985, he went on to become the first Coordinator of the AIDS Bureau at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Under his leadership, community funding increased, anonymous testing was introduced, HIV clinics received dedicated funding and the OHTN was founded. A long-time advocate for those most affected by HIV, Jay had unending compassion, empathy and respect for people living with HIV, who he called "heroes".

Jay was determined that the community leaders and activists who "provided the vision and energy for Ontario's response to AIDS" should never be forgotten. To this end, in the last two years of his life, he worked tirelessly to develop Project Remember: an online database that commemorates the people and events that shaped the HIV movement in Ontario.

At the OHTN, we were all inspired not only by his professional accomplishments but by how he went about achieving them and how he treated people along the way. We remember Jay as one of the most kind-hearted, empathetic and approachable people we have ever known. He personified generosity. He had time for everyone. He rarely said no and he always listened. Soon after his death, at an OHTN staff meeting, somebody said that if you met Jay for a mere 30 seconds, you'd remember him for the rest of your life. And a colleague wasted no time in pointing out that the opposite is also true; he would remember you. The best way to honour Jay is to carry on his legacy. That's what all of us at the OHTN try to do every day.

The 2013 Research Conference featured sessions and events, including:

  • 21 concurrent oral sessions that explore new research in basic and clinical science as well as research focused on the populations most affected by HIV
  • 8 challenge panels – interactive forums where conference participants can discuss challenging issues such as disclosure, body image and HIV, gay men and substance use, new HCV treatments, providing services for prisoners, trans-friendly services and interventions, strategies to reach heterosexual men with HIV, and the role of basic science in impact-focused research
  • both print and electronic posters
  • 4 guided poster tours
  • wellness sessions that discuss ways to maintain and enhance health (including morning yoga classes and a 5k run)
  • arts-based approaches to research and KTE, including digital story telling
  • technology-based interventions for gay men
  • a book reading by Perry Halkitis, researcher and author of the just-released The AIDS Generation: Stories of Survival and Resilience
  • a Cafe Scientifique on the Science of Lifestyle – open to the community – where scientists will talk about the impact of factors such as sleep, stress, exercise (mental and physical), nutrition, substance use and mental health, smoking and alcohol on the health of people with HIV and strategies to enhance health
  • time to network, exchange ideas and make connections.

This conference would not be possible without the goodwill and hard work of many people. The OHTN would like to thank our conference co-chairs – Fanta Ongoiba and Curtis Cooper – and the members of the abstract review committee who helped develop the conference program by reviewing more than 180 abstract submissions. We appreciate the ongoing generous support of our industry sponsors and we would also like to acknowledge the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, which provides the funding for the OHTN.

@theohtn #RC2013