Canada: Health Officials Credit Harm Reduction for Decline in B.C. HIV Rates
March 29, 2011
New HIV cases among injection drug users are down in British Columbia, report health officials who cite an aggressive test-and-treat campaign and harm reduction programs. In 2009, the province recorded 64 new HIV cases among IDUs, down from 137 cases in 2000, an expert working group found.
"The recent decline in new HIV cases is encouraging, especially since a significant decrease has been seen amongst vulnerable populations like those who use injectable drugs," said Dr. Perry Kendall, provincial health officer. "This decrease is more proof that highly active antiretroviral therapy and other harm reduction services are working and should be expanded."
In February 2010, the province launched the four-year, $48 million (US $49.1 million) Seek and Treat to Optimally Prevent HIV/AIDS (STOP AIDS) pilot. Led by Dr. Julio Montaner and his colleagues at the B.C. Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, STOP AIDS helps link at-risk populations in Prince George and inner-city Vancouver to testing and treatment services.
STOP AIDS follows the province's success in boosting treatment uptake among those who are HIV-positive. Between 1996 and 2009, the number of British Columbian HIV/AIDS patients on antiretroviral therapy grew 547 percent, while new HIV diagnoses fell 52 percent.
To access the report, visit www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2011/decreasing-HIV-in-IDU-population.pdf.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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