Stigma surrounding HIV still exists, but death rate is on the decline

Even before doctors determined that the source of her baby girl’s illness was HIV, Denise Wozniak remembered thinking: “The worst thing it could have been was AIDS.”

She recalled the U.S. movie Philadelphia starring Tom Hanks, a lawyer who was shunned after he got the disease, was playing at theatres at the time and her and her husband were afraid to let anyone know why Katie died at nine months old.

Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and one of B.C.’s most prominent anti-AIDS doctors, said that strategy — “treatment as prevention” — is working but remains an ongoing goal, decades after the first World AIDS Day in 1988. “It’s an opportunity to take stock in how far we have come and how far we still have to go to deliver the promise of an AIDS-free generation.”

Susan Lazaruk reports.

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