Wednesday December 1, 2010

BC Gov't Commentary

World AIDS Day

Province restates it's commitment to eliminating barriers

Submitted by Terry Lake, Sec. Ministry of Health


n Dec. 1, British Columbians will join millions around the world in commemorating World AIDS Day, which raises awareness about HIV and honours those who have died from AIDS.

The day also marks a time where we can restate our Province’s commitment to eliminating the health barriers, stigma and discrimination faced by those living with and at risk of HIV/AIDS, while also working to ensure those British Columbians living with the disease have access to the very best care, treatment and support available.

Providing access to prevention education, testing and comprehensive care are our most powerful tools in preventing the spread of this terrible disease and in eliminating the prejudices associated with it.

In British Columbia, we’ve made significant investments in prevention, treatment and care, and on a per capita basis, the Province funds one of the most robust responses to HIV in Canada.

The recent launch of the Seek and Treat pilot program, with $48 million in provincial funding over four years, will better connect at-risk populations in both Prince George and inner-city Vancouver with appropriate treatment services. The pilot program is supported by government and led by Dr. Julio Montaner and his team at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. It utilizes Highly Active Anti-retroviral Therapy (HAART), the current gold standard in HIV treatment.

HAART has the ability to change the way people live with HIV by both improving their quality of life and reducing transmission rates. The latest research from the BC Centre for Excellence shows that the number of people living with HIV in B.C., who were receiving HAART, increased by 547 per cent from 1996 to 2009. During that same time period, new HIV diagnoses fell by 52 per cent.

The expansion of HAART is proving to be an important prevention tool, and every person living with HIV in the province, who is medically eligible, can access anti-retroviral drug treatment at no cost. This complements the efforts of community organizations and regional health authority staff throughout the province working to educate people about HIV, prevent new infections and support those who are living with the disease.

B.C. is proud to be a global leader in addressing HIV/AIDS, and also to be internationally recognized for our research achievements - but we know there’s more work to be done.

Please join me on World AIDS Day in acknowledging the people in B.C. and Canada, along with those worldwide, who have been impacted by the AIDS epidemic – people who are living with HIV, those we have lost, and the caregivers, families, friends and communities who have provided and who continue to provide support in the fight against AIDS.


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