Canadian Premier Pledges Funding for Pilot Program To Increase HIV Treatment Access, Prevent New Cases
Canadian Premier Gordon Campbell during the recent 18th Annual Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS Research pledged to commit up to 20 million Canadian dollars -- or about $16.1 million -- annually to a five-year pilot program in Prince George and Vancouver, the Victoria Times Colonist reports. Campbell said the project aims to increase access to antiretroviral treatment, prevent as many as 173 HIV cases and help save a total of 64 million Canadian dollars, or about $51.8 million, in treatment costs.
"Some of us forget that some people don't know the care is even there, so if you give them the care and support and say ... here's what we can do for you, that's a different approach than we've taken in the past," Campbell said, adding, "We expect over 170 lives to be saved." According to Campbell, the funding for the project comes from a four-year health care budget increase worth 4.8 billion Canadian dollars -- or about $3.8 billion -- that was announced in February. According to Campbell, the approximately $16.1 million cost would be as of the third year of the program, with lower funding amounts needed during the first two years. Julio Montaner, director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, said, "We've spent the last five years working on this project. This is not political opportunism -- this is the culmination of a very long process." Montaner added, "We need to move forward because people that are not accessing care, they are dying, despite the fact services are available. So we need to bring the services to the people so that we can help them to save their lives." According to the Times Colonist, the funding is contingent on Campbell's party winning the May 12 elections (Shaw, Victoria Times Colonist, 4/24).