The following is an op-ed by Dr. Julio Montaner.
The scientific and clinical evidence is overwhelming. An HIV & AIDS-free generation is possible, even in sight, but lack of political leadership is failing to stop the epidemic and putting unnecessary lives at risk. As we mark World AIDS day, Canadians should demand government acts now.
A landmark study published this week by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) shows the made in British Columbia Treatment as Prevention strategy, has led to a marked and sustained decrease in the number of new HIV infections in the province. Indeed, BC is the only province in Canada showing steadily decreasing rates of HIV new diagnoses. Alarmingly, HIV new cases have increased substantially over the same time period in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and even in our capital city; Ottawa.
It is estimated that 65,000 Canadians are now living with HIV and every year 3,300 men and women in Canada are diagnosed with HIV infection. At the current pace, new HIV infections are expected to double within the next 15 years. This is simply unacceptable. The time to expand Treatment as Prevention across Canada is now.
Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) prevents progression of HIV disease to AIDS and death, and secondarily dramatically decreases HIV transmission. Clinical trials have proven beyond doubt that HAART is the most effective biomedical prevention strategy available, as it decreases sexual transmission of HIV by over 96%.