Vancouver, B.C. [August 1, 2013] — Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE), has been awarded the 2013 Canadian Medical Association (CMA) Frederic Newton Gisborne Starr Award.
The CMA FNG Starr Award is the highest award CMA can bestow upon one of its members. It is awarded to Dr. Montaner for his significant contribution to the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS provincially, nationally, and internationally, as well as his work in promoting well-constructed public health policies in B.C., in Canada, and around the world.
“Dr. Montaner’s research and clinical work in alternative therapeutic strategies has changed how medicine treats and perceives HIV disease,” said CMA president Dr. Anna Reid. “The advances he has achieved make him an internationally recognized leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS.”
Added Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS: “I congratulate Dr. Montaner on this great honour. His vision of Treatment as Prevention has improved the lives of millions of people throughout the world, and put an AIDS-free generation within our grasp. His leadership and research have revolutionized HIV care, and changed the face of this disease forever.”
In addition to director of the BC-CfE, Dr. Montaner is a Professor of Medicine at UBC and has held the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation/University of British Columbia (UBC) Endowed Chair in AIDS Research since 1996.
As director of the BC-CfE at St. Paul’s Hospital, Providence Health Care, Dr. Montaner has been a tireless advocate for improving the efficacy and accessibility of HIV treatment and care. In the mid-1990s, Dr. Montaner’s innovative research led to the development of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), a triple-drug therapy now the gold standard of HIV treatment.
In 2005, he began work on the developed of a strategy called Treatment as Prevention. This strategy called for the engagement of HIV-positive individuals earlier into treatment to reduce the virus to undetectable levels in the body, making it very difficult to transmit and improving health outcomes drastically.
While Treatment as Prevention was initially met with resistance when Dr. Montaner first introduced it at the 2006 International AIDS Conference in Toronto, it has since gained global recognition and support as the most effective strategy in preventing HIV.
As the only province to implement the strategy, British Columbia has seen HIV-related morbidity and mortality decline by approximately 90 per cent since the early 1990s. In addition, the number of new HIV diagnoses has fallen from approximately 800 per year prior to 1996 to 238 in 2012. BC is the only province demonstrating a consistent decline in new cases of HIV.
Based on this success, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS have adopted the strategy, as have other jurisdictions throughout the world, including China. The U.S. has identified Treatment as Prevention as a key strategy to achieve an AIDS-free generation.
“I am honoured to have been selected by the Canadian Medical Association to receive the prestigious 2013 CMA Frederic Newton Gisborne Starr Award,” said Dr. Julio Montaner. “This represents a tremendous show of support by my colleagues for the work we have carried out over the last three decades to stop HIV and AIDS. This recognition furthers my commitment to do whatever is needed to ensure the Treatment as Prevention strategy we pioneered in B.C., in partnership with the provincial government, is promptly, fully, and optimally deployed across Canada and the world.”
The 2013 CMA Frederic Newton Gisborne Starr Award will be presented to Dr. Montaner at CMA’s annual meeting in Calgary, Alberta on August 21st.
About the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) is Canada’s largest HIV/AIDS research, treatment and education facility and is internationally recognized as an innovative world leader in combating HIV/AIDS and related diseases. BC-CfE is based at St. Paul’s Hospital, Providence Health Care, a teaching hospital of the University of British Columbia. The BC-CfE works in close collaboration with key provincial stakeholders, including health authorities, health care providers, academics from other institutions, and the community to decrease the health burden of HIV and AIDS and to improve the health of British Columbians living with HIV through developing, monitoring and disseminating comprehensive research and treatment programs for HIV and related illnesses.
About the University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia (UBC) is one of North America’s largest public research and teaching institutions, and one of only two Canadian institutions consistently ranked among the world’s 40 best universities. Surrounded by the beauty of the Canadian West, it is a place that inspires bold, new ways of thinking that have helped make it a national leader in areas as diverse as community service learning, sustainability and research commercialization. UBC offers more than 55,000 students a range of innovative programs and attracts $550 million per year in research funding from government, non-profit organizations and industry through 7,000 grants.
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