Premier John Horgan has issued the following statement in recognition of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, 2018:
“2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the first World AIDS Day. On this day in particular, British Columbians wear the red ribbon to acknowledge people living with HIV, remember those we have lost to this disease and recognize the many people leading the fight to eliminate this epidemic.
“Led by the groundbreaking work of Dr. Julio Montaner and the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, B.C. has been at the forefront of research, prevention and treatment for people living with and at risk of acquiring HIV.
“Recognizing there is no cure or vaccine for HIV, we do have a made in B.C. strategy — Treatment as Prevention — that with sustained treatment and care, the virus will be rendered undetectable in the blood and will make HIV non-transmittable.
“B.C. has been a leader in HIV research since the early days of the epidemic including the implementation of highly active antiretroviral therapy and in providing the groundwork for the global UNAIDS 90-90-90 target. This United Nations program is built on the backbone of B.C.’s world-renowned Treatment as Prevention strategy.
“To further help people live longer and healthier lives, this year our government made pre-exposure prophylaxis, known as PrEP, available to all British Columbians at high risk of HIV infection. PrEP medication prevents new HIV infections and is available at no cost to the patient.
“Because UNAIDS estimates that 9.4 million people worldwide are unknowingly living with HIV, this year’s global theme for World AIDS Day is ‘know your status.’ Thanks to the efforts and dedication of countless people working in this field, more British Columbians than ever have access to HIV testing, giving people the opportunity to receive early treatment, care and support.
“We are grateful to every researcher, medical practitioner and health-care worker who supports patients living with or vulnerable to HIV. And we thank every community organization working to raise awareness and fight stigma and discrimination, including the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network that is marking the 20th anniversary of Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week this year.
“Today, AIDS-related deaths are at an all-time low in B.C. Together, we stand with the United Nations and the rest of Canada in renewing our commitment to end the AIDS epidemic, here and across the globe.”