HIV/AIDS expert Julio Montaner urges Vancouver crowd not to vote for Stephen Harper's Conservatives

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      One of the world's leading HIV/AIDS researchers delivered a barn-burning speech last night condemning Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

      At the 25th anniversary gala of the founding of Positive Living B.C. (formerly the B.C. Persons With AIDS Society), Dr. Julio Montaner said that people have "a responsibility to do the right thing" and get friends and family members to vote in the May 2 federal election.

      "Because if we don't, we are in for deep, deep trouble," Montaner declared.

      Dr. Julio Montaner delivered plenty of newsworthy comments in a short speech last night at a fundraising dinner for Positive Living B.C.

      Montaner, director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, explained that China recently adopted B.C.'s approach for curbing spread of the disease.

      He added that he has also been invited to visit the Vatican to discuss how antiretroviral treatment can prolong lives.

      "Even the pope gets it, so why the hell does Stephen Harper [not] get it," Montaner, a former International AIDS Society president, said.

      The Harper government has launched court challenges to try to have Vancouver's supervised-injection site shut down.

      Montaner revealed that B.C. is the only jurisdiction in the country that has experienced steadily decreasing rates of new HIV diagnoses since 1996.

      He pointed out that no other region in the country can match B.C.'s record.

      "Do the right thing when you go to vote," Montaner advised the audience.

      He began his speech by discussing how difficult it was in the early days for those with the disease, as well as for himself as a researcher.

      He emphasized that great progress has occurred since then. This is related to the development of antiretroviral therapies by B.C. researchers and vigorous prevention programs.

      Montaner credited civic and provincial governments for their consistent support, regardless of who was in power.

      "We are extremely fortunate that we have had the most generous medical program in the whole country," he said. "Many of you don't realize how fortunate we have been."

      He pointed out that it's reached the point where mother-to-child transmission of HIV has been "virtually eliminated" in B.C.

      "Today, a woman infected with HIV will be told for the first time in three decades, 'Yes, you have a problem. We will actually help you. You will have a normal reproductive life. You will have a child. You will put your child through university. And you will be there to see the graduation'," Montaner announced to thunderous applause.

      The cheers remained just as loud through his following statement: "Let me be very clear: gay men today can have a normalized life, a normalized sexual life, because we all enjoy our sexual life and they do too, because of antiretroviral therapy. And they should not be ashamed. Actually, we should be proud of that, because that actually makes their life normal."

      Montaner also said that research has demonstrated that the even in injection-drug users, the risk of HIV transmission can be decreased by 90 percent.

      "I'm not recommending that people start using drugs," he quickly added. "But I'm telling you that bringing treatment to people who use drugs is an essential way to do the best for them and the best for society. You may think this is actually clear to everybody. Let me tell you—it is not clear to a number of people, including Stephen Harper."

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      Just wondering

      Apr 10, 2011 at 11:15am

      Good on ya! Great speech. We need to listen people.


      Apr 10, 2011 at 11:44am

      HIV is one of many issues that are taboo for Evangelicals like Stephen Harper and much of his caucus. If GS readers want to let any of their friends and neighbors know about what influences Conservative policy, this is it. Why this has become taboo to discuss is beyond me.
      Here`s a list in case anyone is wondering of their member is also of similar soul-saving persuasion.


      Apr 10, 2011 at 12:12pm

      Another good reason to vote against the Harperites - please don't give that crowd a majority government!


      Apr 10, 2011 at 12:29pm

      After seeing Harper et al. fighting to get safe-injection-site Insite shut down, I would be surprised if anybody with an ounce of compassion in them would vote for the Tories.--@Rolf_Auer


      Apr 10, 2011 at 1:18pm

      There is nothing "Christian" about Mr Harper. People who follow Christ have compassion. That robot is soulless, completely lacking in empathy, possibly a true sociopath.

      monty/that's me

      Apr 10, 2011 at 3:37pm

      Canadian Press has just released a story about Harper and the utter failure of an AIDS venture that was to have been done jointly with the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation. Another good read and numberr 2 in Canadian Press negative stories about Harper today.


      Apr 10, 2011 at 5:23pm

      Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival. -- Dalai Lama

      Scott Blackstone

      Apr 10, 2011 at 9:51pm

      What a waste of time and effort. Vancouver isn't going to vote Conservative. Go to Surrey, go to Richmond, go to West Vancouver, go to North Vancouver, go to Langley -- that's where the message needs to be spread. These people vote Conservative and they do it in huge numbers.


      Apr 11, 2011 at 12:27am

      True S. Blackstone, so I just have to add if you love this planet, vote ndp, vote green, vote liberal, anything but the conservatives who have ruined our beloved country, environment, international reputation AND put us All into debt!

      Monty OToole

      Apr 12, 2011 at 10:41am

      Although Harper claims to be a Christian, as do many. Jesus said you will know them by their fruit. I see no fruit from this man and his anti-sympathetic policies. He is in fact...a Bilderberger. Not getting my vote again.