It is with sadness that we announce the death of Dr. Robert Remis, former head of the Ontario HIV Epidemiologic Monitoring Unit. Dr. Remis died on Thursday, September 25, 2014. Dr. Remis was appointed as head of the unit in 1996 when it was established as a joint undertaking of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the University of Toronto.
Dr. Remis was very giving of his time to inform the community about HIV/AIDS and he will be remembered for his HIV research in Canada and abroad. In recognition of his efforts, Dr. Remis received the Ontario AIDS Network’s Honour Roll award in 2008.
Dr. Remis held a medical degree from McGill University and a Master’s degree in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. He had an extensive background in community health as well as almost eighteen years of experience in the field of HIV/AIDS in Ontario. He worked for many years in the epidemiology of HIV – a highly quantitative discipline based on the principles of statistics and scientific research methodologies. His HIV research focused on HIV infection, surveillance, seroepidemiologic studies, modeling, mother-infant and sexual transmission and HIV prevention policy and programs. His research studies included the Ontario Men’s Survey, the Polaris Sero-Conversion Study, the OMEGA HIV cohort study in Montreal, and the HIV sero-prevalence among pregnant women in Ontario. He published more than 60 articles in the areas of HIV, viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, and food-borne illness. He was also involved in an epidemiologic study and behavioral intervention among female sex workers in Shanghai, China.
From 1973 to 1980, Dr. Remis worked as a family practitioner in Northern Saskatchewan, in a community clinic (CLSC) near Montreal, and in a rural hospital in the Comoro Islands off the east coast of Africa. In 1980-81, he undertook further studies in epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and then trained from 1981-83 in field epidemiology at the Epidemic Intelligence Service, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta.
He was highly dedicated to his work and inspired many of us to think and to debate about what our HIV prevention messages should be. Robert’s efforts helped to ensure that the importance of HIV in Ontario will continue to be recognized. The Ontario AIDS Network joins together with his family and many friends in the HIV community in Canada in honouring his important contribution to our work.