On the occasion of World AIDS Day, British Columbia has reached new milestones in preventing HIV infections and improving the quality of life for people living with HIV.
B.C. has surpassed a UNAIDS target and has seen a greater than 90% decrease in people living with and dying from AIDS. New HIV diagnoses have reached the lowest level, down by approximately 80% from the peak in 1987, when over 900 cases yearly were diagnosed in B.C.
In addition, a new walk-in clinic on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is now open to support people living with HIV, opioid addictions, mental health and other health issues, including hepatitis C. The clinic is named Hope to Health Research and Innovation.
“As we commemorate World AIDS Day, I want to remember all those we have lost to the AIDS epidemic and celebrate the progress we have made against this formidable disease,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “We can be proud of what the province, with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, has achieved. The world looks to us as a leader, and we constantly strive to provide the best care possible. Landmarks like this don’t come around often in the world, and it’s evidence of the best and brightest minds coming together to solve the challenge of HIV transmission.”
The UNAIDS 90-90-90 target calls for jurisdictions around the world to ensure that at least 90% of people living with HIV are diagnosed, at least 90% of those diagnosed are receiving treatment with antiretroviral therapy, and at least 90% of those on treatment have a sustained undetectable HIV viral load by 2020.
People can walk into the clinic without an appointment to see a nurse, social worker or a doctor, as needed. The clinic can support people accessing medication for HIV and hepatitis C, as well as methadone and suboxone for opioid addictions. Take-home naloxone kits for treating overdoses from opioids such as fentanyl are also available. Other services include referral for treatment, counselling and other health services.
A clinical team of 10.5 full-time equivalent doctors, nurses, social workers and peer support workers are providing care to patients at the clinic from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.
To further help prevent the transmission of HIV, government expanded public funding for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) on Jan. 1, 2018. As well, the Province’s STOP HIV/AIDS program receives approximately $20 million of annual funding and separately, government supports a three-year, $322-million contract with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS for the delivery of the HIV Drug Treatment Program, including HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis.
For more information about the province’s expanded coverage for pre-exposure prophylaxis visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019HLTH0039-000342
For more information about the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, visit: http://bccfe.ca/
Two backgrounders follow.