UBC researcher finds improved uptake of highly active antiretroviral therapy

January 03, 2016

The project, known as Seek and Treat to Optimize Prevention of HIV and AIDS (STOP HIV & AIDS), is aimed at curbing the transmission of HIV and decreasing AIDS-related morbidity and mortality. These benefits will occur by expanding HIV treatment, care and support, as well as improving access to HIV drugs for hard-to-reach residents. The pilot project will focus on Prince George and Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, where access to services remains sub-optimal.

As part of this initiative, specific efforts will be made to identify and test individuals at risk (seek) and engage them in care and on HAART if medically appropriate (treat), all within a supportive environment that includes harm reduction strategies. Medical care, laboratory monitoring and HAART are all available free of charge as part of the universal health care system in B.C.

The results of the BC-CfE's study come at a key time, given concerns raised by a recent mathematical model based on the San Francisco experience published by Smith et al (Science, January 14, 2010). The study conducted in San Francisco suggested that the effectiveness of increased HAART coverage could be seriously undermined by the emergence of an epidemic of drug-resistant HIV.

"However, our population-based results collected over the last decade demonstrate that high levels of sustained viral suppression can be achieved and the emergence of drug-resistant HIV can be prevented through the appropriate use of modern antiretroviral regimens as currently recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) coupled with adequate patient support. These lessons are keys to the roll out of HAART around the world," said Montaner, who is Professor of Medicine, Chair of AIDS Research and Head of the Division of AIDS at the University of British Columbia.

Source: University of British Columbia