The beginning of the end is here! Well, at least that’s what Dr. Julio Montaner, Director of British Columbia’s centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, hopes is true in regards to the fight to end the deadly disease. As part of a new pilot program in Canada’s westernmost province, Dr. Montaner is trying to test every citizen who has ever been sexually active for HIV/AIDS. The program, which centres around an antibody test requiring only a single drop of blood from a person’s fingertip, produces results in about 30 seconds. His goal: find the approximately one per cent of people who unknowingly have the disease so they can be treated by a drug that has been found to reduce the transmission rate by 95 per cent, reports the Globe and Mail. Montaner believes these people are the one’s who continue to transmit the disease.
The drug mentioned is the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), which has been shown to make people who are HIV positive nearly non-infectious. In the past five years, HIV-positive mothers on HAART have not transmitted the disease to their babies, according to the Province.
The program, which is being called “CHANGE HIVSTORY”, is part of a four year, $48 million pilot program funded by the British Columbia Ministry of Health, reports the Sacramento Bee. The testing will be voluntary, and Montaner believes people will oblige since 99 per cent of the tests will come out negative, CBC News reports.
This program is just another example of British Columbia’s progressive fight against HIV/AIDS, a place that serves as a pioneer for others to follow. In 1996, B.C. experienced 900 newly diagnosed cases but by 2011, that number had fallen to under 300. Quite an accomplishment, given that B.C. was the only province in the country to see a decrease in HIV infection, reports the Province.
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