B.C. offers free HIV prevention treatment to high-risk patients (Dr. Julio Montaner)

Starting Jan. 1, the province will begin offering a powerful HIV prevention treatment for free through the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS to high-risk individuals who ask for it, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday.

The prevention method involves a pill that combines two of the three anti-retroviral drugs used to treat HIV-infected patients, which is given to uninfected patients as a means to block transmission of the virus.

B.C. could see about 2,000 patients access the drug initially, according to Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, but he said they have the capacity to expand to 5,000 patients fully covered under Pharmacare.

Derrick Penner reports

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This story also appeared in the Victoria Times Colonist