B.C. partners with China on program to fight HIV and AIDS

The British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS is taking its successful "treatment as prevention" program to China to help stem the spread of the disease.

Chinese scientists will come to Vancouver to work with top B.C. researchers and clinicians

B.C. Premier Christy Clark, in China on a trade mission, witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the National Centre for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCAIDS/China CDC) and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) to formalize a collaboration to develop new research and HIV programs. Dr. Zunyou Wu, director of NCAIDS/China CDC, andh Dr. Julio Montaner of BC-CfE shake hands after signing the memorandum. (B.C. Government newsroom)

The British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS is taking its successful "treatment as prevention" program to China to help stem the spread of the disease.

The head of the program is hoping the expansion of the treatment plan worldwide will embarrass the Canadian government into adopting the same plan across our country.

Dr. Julio Montaner says China, Brazil, France, the United States and several countries in Africa are in the process of emulating the program that has virtually conquered the disease in British Columbia.

But Montaner says he has constantly been rebuffed by federal officials at home and he wonders if the Canadian government would treat the issue the same way if it were another disease such as breast cancer or the flu.

The agreement signed with China cements a prevention plan that began with the B.C. group two years ago, which involves widespread HIV testing and the immediate offer of highly active antiretroviral therapy to those who test positive.

The agreement also begins a new fellowship that will allow Chinese doctors to travel to the province for research related to treatment and prevention.

Through the expansion of testing and treatment, British Columbia's program has cut the province's mortality rate for HIV and AIDS by more than 95 per cent since 1996.

With files from CBC News

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