Providence’s BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS signs memorandum of understanding with the Queensland Government

Queensland and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS are joining forces to conquer HIV/AIDS.

The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and the Government of Queensland (Queensland Department of Health) and the HIV Foundation Queensland (HIVFQ) are entering into an agreement through a memorandum of understanding, signed at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. The partnership formalizes a collaboration aimed at supporting HIV positive individuals and at risk populations in Queensland and British Columbia. Queensland will formally adopt the made-in-BC HIV Treatment as Prevention (TasP) strategy, pioneered by the BC-CfE.

“We are very excited to be collaborating with Queensland, and implementing our made-in-BC Treatment as Prevention strategy,” says Dr. Julio Montaner, director, British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, chair of AIDS Research and head of Division of AIDS at UBC Faculty of Medicine. “This model is based on scientific evidence. We know from the success we’ve had with Treatment as Prevention, it holds the promise of eliminating HIV and AIDS in our lifetime.”

Queensland is the latest international jurisdiction to implement TasP. Panama, China, France, Spain and Brazil have already signed on, and US cities including New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. are adopting the Treatment as Prevention model.

The Treatment as Prevention strategy involves widespread HIV testing and immediate offer of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) to medically eligible individuals. Early engagement and sustained treatment has been shown to virtually eliminate progression of the disease to AIDS and premature death, and simultaneously stop transmission of the virus. Dr. Montaner formally introduced TasP in 2006 at the Toronto IAS AIDS conference and BC has virtually eliminated AIDS and markedly decreased the spread of new HIV infections. The BC strategy has been so successful, the province’s dedicated HIV/AIDS Ward, which opened in 1997 at St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver, was recently reprofiled because new cases of AIDS have declined significantly.

Queensland Minister for Health, Lawrence Springborg, said the partnership signified a milestone for HIV in Queensland that would deliver many positive outcomes. He said, “Queensland is the first Australian jurisdiction to enter into such a partnership to develop an HIV Treatment as Prevention strategy with leading international experts.

“This provides Queensland with the opportunity to lead the development, implementation and evaluation of TasP in Australia. We believe this will have significant impacts on national and international efforts working towards the virtual elimination of HIV.”

The BC-CfE and its Queensland partners will work jointly to respectively improve the health of British Columbians and Queenslanders through sharing cost-effective research, therapeutic protocols and tools, and programs for the treatment of HIV and AIDS. The partnership aims to protect and improve the health of people by eliminating HIV/AIDS through science, policy, partnership, and evidence-based public health action.

“The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS is recognized around the world as a leader in research and innovation,” says Health Minster Terry Lake. “HIV/AIDS is a global problem, and we are committed to sharing our expertise. This exchange allows us to promote and collaborate on health priorities affecting Queensland, British Columbia, and the global community in relation to HIV/AIDS.”

Press conference video 

BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS backgrounder