B.C.'s Treatment as Prevention [TasP] approach to addressing HIV/AIDS has received glowing praise around the world.
Initially proposed by the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in 2006, it has since been adopted by the United States, France, Brazil, and China.
The World Health Organization has also endorsed it.
Now, Liberal health critic Dr. Hedy Fry has written to Health Minister Rona Ambrose demanding that the Conservative government embrace this approach.
"We cannot afford the status quo, especially because we know what works to fight HIV and AIDS," Fry declared in her November 28 letter. "It is medically, ethically, and morally wrong to ignore the evidence. Science needs to triumph over ideology. The sanctity of human lives needs to triumph over political agendas. Because the simple truth is, if we fail to do so now we will burden our future generations with HIV and AIDS—an epidemic we can conquer."
In her letter, the veteran Vancouver Centre MP explained that the TasP strategy involves widespread HIV testing and early access to antiretroviral therapy.
She highlighted that it prevents mortality and morbidity by decreasing HIV levels in the blood and sexual fluids to "undetectable levels".
Fry's letter also noted that that TasP reduces the likelihood of HIV transmission by more than 95 percent.
"In B.C. in 1992, at the peak of the epidemic, more than 800 people per year were diagnosed with HIV and at least one person was dying every day from AIDS," Fry noted. "Since then, the number of new AIDS diagnoses have decreased by over 90% and the HIV diagnoses has fallen to 238 in 2012—a decline by over 70%. Furthermore, vertical HIV transmission has been nearly eliminated and new infections among injection drug users have declined over 95%."
Fry stated in her letter that there are 71,300 Canadians living with HIV, which could double within 15 years if TasP is not expanded across the country.
She wrote to Ambrose three days before World AIDS Day, which falls on December 1.
[Click "downloads" tab above to read the letter.]