Conservative Government Missing on Endorsement of Global and Domestic Strategy to End AIDS
Vancouver, BC [October 9, 2015] - In response to a letter from the Director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) Dr. Julio Montaner, all federal political parties - except the Conservative government - pledged their support of a global target to end AIDS by 2030. On September 22, Dr. Julio Montaner wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper , which was also sent to all leaders of the Canadian federal parties, calling on the federal government to formally endorse the United Nations HIV/AIDS strategy. The UN 90-90-90 Target is based on the made in BC concept of Treatment as Prevention ® (TasP ® ) pioneered by the BC-CfE under Dr. Montaner's leadership.
In a letter to Dr. Montaner dated October 8, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau announced his support for the adoption of the global plan to end AIDS, and called on Canada to make a commitment on the world stage. “Should the Liberal Part of Canada form the next government, we are dedicated to taking aggressive action to combat both the disease, as well as the unfortunate stigma that continues to surround it,” wrote Trudeau.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has posted a petition on the party's website calling for nationwide implementation of TasP ® . The NDP Party, through Victoria NDP candidate Murray Rankin, said the government “needs to work with the provinces to adopt the targets domestically.”
The Conservative government said that “has been supportive of the principles behind” the 90-90-90 Target...”The current federal government has focused largely on vaccine development and behavioural changes in its approach to HIV and AIDS prevention.
The TasP ® strategy emphasizes early testing and full and universal access to effective, lifesaving antiretroviral therapy immediately upon HIV diagnosis. It serves as the foundation of the UN's plan to end AIDS by 2030 by expanding HIV testing and treatment. Recent international clinical trials have definitively confirmed that immediate treatment prevents progression to AIDS and premature death among people living with HIV, and secondarily stops the spread of the virus. In September of this year, the World Health Organization updated its HIV treatment guidelines, calling for all those diagnosed to be given immediate antiretroviral treatment, something BC has been doing since 2006. Importantly, the last week of September, at the UN General Assembly the Sustainable Development Goals were ratified, including a call for the end of AIDS, based on the use of TasP®.
Within Canada, BC is the only province to implement TasP ® and the only one to see a consistent decline in new HIV cases. Meanwhile spikes in the epidemic have been seen in provinces such as Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and even the capital city of Canada, Ottawa. Across the country, treatment coverage remains uneven and a recent study found 48% of Canadians living with HIV started treatment late, when their immune systems had already been compromised. [link: http://www.cfenet.ubc.ca/news/releases/nearly-half-canadians-living-with-hiv-start-treatment-late]
In his letter to Dr. Montaner, Mr..Trudeau highlighted grave inaction on the part of the federal government: “Unfortunately, since taking office in 2006, the Harper Conservatives have been slow to either embrace or accept any scientific innovation, and have failed to consult with leading experts...”
This is not the first time there was a lack of response: Dr. Montaner has written to the federal government each year since the introduction of TasP ® by the BC-CfE in 2006 and called for the strategy to be implemented in Canada.
“Implementing TasP ® and the related UN 90-90-90 Target in Canada will ensure an end to AIDS by 2030,” said Dr. Montaner. “It is high time for the federal government to formally endorsed TasP domestically as the new and globally recognized standard of care. The Conservative government's decade of silence in this issue is costing lives, suffering and money. This is not acceptable. We need action, now.”
The UNAIDS 90-90-90 Target
The UN 90-90-90 Target, based on the made in BC Treatment as Prevention ® strategy, calls for at least 90% of those living with HIV to be diagnosed, at least 90% of all people living with HIV to have access to high quality antiretroviral therapy, and at least 90% of those on treatment to have sustained HIV viral suppression. Meeting the UN 90-90-90 Target by 2020 will lead to a 90% reduction in the global burden of HIV/AIDS by 2030, when compared to a 2010 baseline (including AIDS-related morbidity and mortality, as well as HIV transmission). The United Nations formally embraced the 90-90-90 Target in September 2014, and more recently confirmed the commitment to ending AIDS by 2030 as part of its Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015.
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. The 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
Reproduced with permission - "B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS"
B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
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