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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, July 22, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- At the 2015 International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference, the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) and the Government of Brazil signed a Letter of Intent in which Brazil confirmed its commitment to expanding access to lifesaving antiretroviral therapy across the country. Brazil began implementing Treatment as Prevention® (TasP®) in December 2013, a concept pioneered by Director Dr. Julio Montaner at the BC-CfE and introduced at the 2006 IAS Conference.
TasP® calls for early and widespread testing, and the immediate offer of HIV treatment to those who are diagnosed with HIV. On sustained treatment, people living with HIV can achieve an undetectable viral load, live longer and are unlikely to transmit HIV.
The Letter of Intent was signed at the 8th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, the world's largest open scientific conference on HIV/AIDS and related issues. The last time the IAS Conference was in Vancouver, in 1996, Dr. Montaner introduced the lifesaving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) – which is now the gold standard in HIV treatment.
"With the support of the provincial government and under the leadership of Dr. Julio Montaner, British Columbia is continually leading the charge against HIV," said BC Minister of Health Terry Lake. "With the IAS Conference as a backdrop, Vancouver is once again making history in offering the most effective made-in-BC tools and strategies against HIV."
The United Nations announced last week they had met the Millennium Development Goal of reaching 15 million people around the world with HIV treatment by 2015, but called for continued investment in order to close gaps in access. Brazil, the most populous country in South America, has already taken significant steps towards ending AIDS within its borders: working to achieve 90 per cent of the estimated people living with HIV are diagnosed and 90 per cent of those diagnosed are treated before 2020. Brazil has been a forerunner among low- to middle-income countries on the charge against HIV and AIDS through TasP®.
"Brazil joins a number of nations charging forward with implementing a proven, evidence-based strategy against HIV and AIDS," said Dr. Julio Montaner, Director of the BC-CfE. "Their firm commitment sets the pace for other nations and jurisdictions to stand up and fight against one of the largest global health burdens of our time. With enough international momentum and investment, we could achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target and end AIDS by 2030."
Brazil joins a number of other jurisdictions that have signed on to implement TasP®, including China, France, Spain, Netherlands, Panama, Thailand, the state of Queensland in Australia, and several major US cities. In BC, TasP® has resulted in a 65 per cent drop in new HIV cases, an 88 per cent drop in new AIDS cases and an 83 per cent drop in AIDS-related deaths since 1994. The province's dedicated HIV/AIDS Ward, which opened in 1997 at St. Paul's hospital in Vancouver, was repurposed in 2014 due to a steep decline in AIDS cases.
"We are acting together on this critical initiative based on the evidence and bolstered by the encouraging and pioneering results from British Columbia," said Dr. Fábio Mesquita, Director of the Department of STD, AIDS and Viral Hepatitis with the Brazil Ministry of Health.
About the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) is Canada's largest HIV/AIDS research, treatment and education facility and is internationally recognized as an innovative world leader in combating HIV/AIDS and related diseases. BC-CfE is based at St. Paul's Hospital, Providence Health Care, a teaching hospital of the University of British Columbia. The BC-CfE works in close collaboration with key provincial stakeholders, including government, health authorities, health care providers, academics from other institutions, and the community to decrease the health burden of HIV and AIDS. By developing, monitoring and disseminating comprehensive research and treatment programs for HIV and related illnesses, the BC-CfE helps improve the health of British Columbians.
For additional information or to request interviews, please contact:
Caroline Dobuzinskis, BC-CfE
Phone: 604-682-2344 ext. 66536
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