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Panama adopts made-in-B.C. HIV Treatment as Prevention strategy

Panama and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS partner to expand Treatment as Prevention; Momentum builds globally for made-in-B.C. HIV strategy

Vancouver, B.C. [February 20, 2014] - Panama has become the latest country to adopt British Columbia's HIV Treatment as Prevention strategy.

Panama and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to partner in the global fight against HIV/AIDS through the implementation of the made-in-B.C. strategy.

Panama becomes the first Central American country to embrace Treatment as Prevention, and joins China, France, and Brazil in adopting the strategy as their national HIV/AIDS policy. The strategy has also been implemented by cities across the United States, including San Francisco, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

"The momentum continues to build to implement the Treatment as Prevention strategy to save lives, prevent infections, and, in the long-term, save money," said Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the BC-CfE. "I believe this represents a first step in other countries in Central America and the Caribbean adopting Treatment as Prevention and moving toward an HIV- and AIDS-free generation."

The Treatment as Prevention strategy involves the widespread offer of HIV testing and immediate offer and use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) to people living with HIV who are medically eligible and willing. Recently published research from the BC-CfE found the expansion of HIV treatment in B.C. has led to sustained and profound decreases in morbidity, mortality, and new cases of HIV. This further demonstrates that the province's Treatment as Prevention strategy should be applied in other settings around the world. To complement the strategy, B.C. has also supported harm reduction programs like needle distribution and recovery, which are integral in preventing HIV and hepatitis C, and engaging vulnerable populations.

"British Columbia has been an international leader in developing a strategy proven to combat HIV and AIDS," said Dr. Javier Díaz, Panama Minister of Health. "This partnership will assist us in promoting and collaborating on health priorities affecting the citizens of Panama and the global community in relation to HIV and AIDS."

The MOU establishes a collaboration to develop new research and HIV programs, and creates an HIV fellowship program that will allow Panamanian HIV scientists to come to Vancouver to work with BCCfE researchers and clinicians. The BC-CfE will provide science and support in the development and evaluation of Panama's Treatment as Prevention program.

"We're excited to see British Columbia's strategy being embraced by the government of Panama," said Terry Lake, B.C. Minister of Health. "This new partnership speaks to the tremendous work our government and entire community have done to ensure the Treatment as Prevention strategy is a success for all people living with or at risk of contracting HIV. Panama will be a model to emulate for other Central American countries and the Caribbean, and indeed the rest of the world."

Minister Terry Lake speaks
on Panama adoptingTreatment as Prevention strategy
Watch Video

Panama, which has a population of 3.8 million, has an estimated 17,000 people living with HIV.

Comparatively, there are approximately 12,000 people living with HIV in B.C., which has a population of 4.6 million.

"HIV and AIDS is a global problem, and we're committed to exchanging science, research, and expertise to benefit people living with HIV," said Dr. Rolando Barrios, assistant director of the BC-CfE. "We look forward to working with Panama on the implementation of Treatment as Prevention."

Treatment as Prevention was first endorsed by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in 2010. In 2012, the U.S. identified it as a key strategy to achieve an AIDS-free generation, and in July 2013, the World Health Organization fully incorporated the strategy in their new Global HIV Treatment Guidelines.


About the B.C. 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 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 living with HIV.

About the University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is one of North America's largest public research and teaching institutions, and one of only two Canadian institutions consistently ranked among the world's 40 best universities. Surrounded by the beauty of the Canadian West, it is a place that inspires bold, new ways of thinking that have helped make it a national leader in areas as diverse as community service learning, sustainability and research commercialization. UBC offers more than 55,000 students a range of innovative programs and attracts $550 million per year in research funding from government, non-profit organizations and industry through 7,000 grants.

For additional information or to request interviews, please contact:
Kevin Hollett
Phone: 604-682-2344 ext. 66536
Mobile: 778-848-3420


Reproduced with permission - "B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS"

B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

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