B.C. leads nation in fighting AIDS

Health is a top priority for the government of B.C., and has made significant investments in research, disease prevention and treatment.

Health is a top priority for the government of British Columbia, and we’ve made significant investments in research, disease prevention and treatment.

These investments have paid off in a number of ways, including better health, greater innovation and long-term cost savings.

There are few better examples of this than our investments in HIV research, treatment and prevention. In Canada, British Columbia is the national success story in combating HIV and AIDS.

Thanks to research conducted at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and provincial support for Seek and Treat to Optimally Prevent HIV/AIDS (STOP HIV), an innovative pilot utilizing the “Treatment as Prevention” approach, our province stands tall in Canada.

B.C. is the only provincial jurisdiction showing a steady decline in the number of AIDS deaths, AIDS cases, and new HIV diagnoses.

This is vital work. A diagnosis of HIV is stressful and challenging for individuals, and can have a big impact on family and friends.

Each HIV case costs approximately $500,000 in medication alone, and illness and ongoing stigma surrounding HIV infection can add to the burden.

Fewer HIV and AIDS cases reduces the impact on individuals, friends and family, while translating into more infections prevented and opportunities to reallocate health care resources to other high priority areas.

The BC-CfE’s leading-edge work has produced impressive results.

Although based in Vancouver, BC-CfE is a critical provincial resource that serves all health authorities and citizens of B.C., including those in Kelowna and the Okanagan.

More than 15 years ago, the BC-CfE played a key role in the discovery of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), the landmark drug cocktail that has been adopted in Canada and around the world as the gold standard of treatment for HIV.

The Treatment as Prevention approach calls for widespread HIV testing and immediate treatment for those who wish to engage in care.

Research conducted by BC-CfE showed optimal HAART treatment reduces the level of HIV in blood and other biological fluids to undetectable levels, thereby decreasing the likelihood of HIV transmission by more than 90 per cent.

These successes have attracted global attention. Similar programs have been launched in San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC.

On Nov. 8, 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the Treatment as Prevention strategy a vital plank in her comprehensive proposal to combat HIV and AIDS around the world.

In addition, China recently committed to implementing a countrywide HIV/AIDS strategy based on BC-CfE’s work.

China has 740,000 people infected with HIV and nearly 110,000 people with AIDS.

The World Health Organization developed a mathematical model that predicts a 95 per cent reduction in new HIV cases globally within 10 years if Treatment as Prevention is widely adopted.

This analysis suggests the Treatment as Prevention approach could save more than seven million lives by 2050, many of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

B.C.’s accomplishments in the global war against HIV are truly staggering. However, we must not become complacent.

There are at least 12,000 HIV-positive people in B.C. It’s estimated approximately 2,500 of them remain undiagnosed.

Only by continuing to support strategies such as Treatment as Prevention will we be able to defeat HIV and AIDS.

Norm Letnick is the Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country and the chair of the Select Standing Committee on Health for British Columbia.

 

Just Posted

Two escape vehicle fire

Smoke and flames were spotted coming from the hood of a truck on Hudson Road

Kelowna motel robbed, suspect sought

The suspect threatened to harm the lone front desk clerk and demanded money.

Penticton reporter reflects on covering Charles Manson

Charles Manson, leader of a murderous cult, died on Sunday at 83

West Kelowna neighbourhood fed up with criminal activity

Prowler frustrating West Kelowna residents

Big White to send off Olympians in style

Okanagan ski resort picked as location for official send-off of Canada’s 2018 Winter Olympic team

Heavy snowfall expected on Coquihalla

Snow forecast for mountain highways

Hergott: A pedestrian’s legal obligation

Lawyer Paul Hergott questions the moral obligation of pedestrians and motorists

Coyotes grab Okanagan boys title

George Elliott defeats Seaton in AA volleyball final, seeded third heading to provincials

ICBC overbilling for crash repairs not the problem, dealers say

Collision repair shops reject union claim of inflated costs

Last day for shoeboxes at Kelowna Gospel Fellowship

Kelowna church has been gathering gifts for kids in need in countries around the world

Owls soar to Okanagan volleyball title

KSS girls win 4A championship for 12th straight year beating Pen Hi in final

B.C. groups to address child sex abuse in sports

viaSport is organizing a full day of education in association with Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Report sets exercise guidelines for young kids, including ‘tummy time’ for babies

Kids aged one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity throughout the day

Stampeders return to Grey Cup with 32-28 win over Edmonton Eskimos

The Stampeders will face the Toronto Argonauts next Sunday in Ottawa for the title

Most Read