B.C. HIV treatment program gets $20M boost
B.C. program makes antiretroviral therapy more widely available to HIV patients, leading to a decrease in the number of new infections in the province.
Published Friday, November 30, 2012 6:52PM EST
VANCOUVER - A B.C. program that's dramatically slashed HIV infection rates in the province is getting a new annual boost of nearly $20 million.
Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid announced Friday the Stop HIV/AIDS pilot program, which was launched four years ago, is being expanded throughout the province starting April 1.
MacDiarmid says the funding will go towards new outreach programs, new HIV testing methods, more front-line staff and will cover other prevention and treatment programs.
Dr. Julio Montaner, who leads the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, says the program is working towards eliminating the disease altogether in the province, which is the only place in Canada showing a consistent decline of new HIV diagnoses.
New HIV infections have decreased from about 900 new cases each year in the mid-1990s to 289 new cases in 2011.
It's estimated 13,000 British Columbians have HIV/AIDS, but the province offers free medication to infected residents, which has played a major role in the decline.