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B.C. marks record achievements in effort to end AIDS

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Health

B.C. marks record achievements in effort to end AIDS

Media Contacts
Ministry of Health
Communications
250 818-0293 (media line)
Ed Chu
Communications Co-ordinator
BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
236 885-4617
Media Contacts
Ministry of Health
Communications
250 818-0293 (media line)
Ed Chu
Communications Co-ordinator
BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
236 885-4617

Backgrounders

What people are saying about B.C.’s response to HIV/AIDS

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer

“British Columbia has been at the forefront of response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic from the very beginning with the key collaborations between the health authorities and Dr. Julio Montaner and his team at the BC-CfE. This has led us to markedly reduce the impacts of what was once a death sentence not only here in B.C., but also around the world.”

Dr. Julio Montaner, BC-CfE's executive director, physician-in-chief

“I am pleased to report B.C. has now surpassed the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target. Furthermore, this year B.C. has seen new HIV diagnoses decrease to the lowest level since the peak of the epidemic in the pre-HAART era. This is on top of this year’s announcement of a record low number of AIDS diagnoses in B.C. Our success remains strictly dependent on our ability to continue to support the existing programs and people living with HIV/AIDS. Failure to do so would be devastating and severely undermine the success of our strategy”

Fiona Dalton, president, chief executive officer, Providence Health Care

“The 90-90-90 target for the management of HIV/AIDS is an incredibly powerful approach and we’re proud it’s been adopted by the UN for the worldwide control of HIV/AIDS. We’re even prouder that the target has been surpassed in British Columbia, and as a result we are seeing a dramatic decrease in AIDS-related morbidity and mortality, as well as HIV transmission.”

About the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS is Canada’s largest HIV/AIDS research, treatment and education facility – nationally and internationally recognized as an innovative world leader in combating HIV/AIDS and related diseases.

The made-in-B.C. Treatment as Prevention strategy (TasP) pioneered by the centre, and supported by UNAIDS since 2011, inspired the ambitious global target for HIV treatment – known as the 90-90-90 target - to end AIDS as a pandemic by 2030. The centre is applying TasP within therapeutic areas beyond HIV/AIDS, including viral hepatitis and addiction, to promote targeted disease elimination as a means to contribute to health-care sustainability. The centre works in close collaboration with key stakeholders, including government, health authorities, health-care providers, academics and the community to decrease the health burden of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and addictions across Canada and around the world.

Facts about HIV/AIDS:

  • There are an estimated 7,560 British Columbians living with HIV.
  • Since introducing Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART), the number of annual cases of HIV has dropped from nearly 900 new cases in 1987 to approximately 150 in 2019.
  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily oral antiretroviral medication that is highly effective in preventing new cases of HIV.
  • BC-CfE has supported over 7,400 persons on HAART and over 6,000 persons on PrEP.
  • B.C. has led Canada and the world in the implementation of the made-in-B.C. TasP strategy pioneered by the BC-CfE.
  • The BC TasP strategy has been adopted by China, Brazil and Panama, among many other jurisdictions worldwide.
  • Research by the BC-CfE shows gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic.
  • Since 1996, HAART, available for free to eligible B.C. residents, has transformed HIV from a deadly disease into a life-long manageable condition.
  • Close monitoring of the HIV-AIDS epidemic in B.C. allowed the BC-CfE to demonstrate that HAART has changed the lives of millions of those living with HIV, transforming it into a manageable disease with a better quality of life.
  • Additionally, the centre was the first to postulate that an undetectable viral load, as a result of HAART use, would prevent HIV transmission. Further, BC-CfE determined that the expansion of services, including HAART, to all those living with HIV would save money.
  • Over the subsequent decade, the BC-CfE developed the TasP related 90-90-90 target, as a means to facilitate implementation and monitoring of the strategy.
  • The 90-90-90 target was formally adopted by the Joint United Nations AIDS Programme in 2015, and endorsed by the United Nations shortly thereafter, and is now known as the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target.

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