How antiretroviral drugs can suppress HIV, one pill at a time (Dr. Julio Montaner)

One afternoon last week, CDs, clothes, tools – as well as sex and drugs – were for sale on the sidewalks of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, the pungent scent of marijuana hanging in the air and stench of urine wafting out of alleys.

Outreach nurse Jacey Larochelle strolled through the crowd looking for one of her 27 clients who are HIV-positive. Many of them are “polydrug” users with mental health issues and several are in the “survival sex trade” making as little a “$5 for a blow job,” she says. They can earn a bit more if they don’t insist on condom use.

“It is the perfect opportunity to end the epidemic,” says Dr. Julio Montaner, former president of the International AIDS Society and director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

Margaret Munro reports.

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