NGDI Distinguished Lectureship Seminar Series: Dr. Julio Montaner

Dr. Montaner fields questions

The second NGDI Distinguished Lectureship Seminar co-sponsored by the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Centre for Drug Research and Development was held on May 13th, 2011.  This successful seminar featured a talk by the Past President of the International AIDS Society and the Director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Dr. Julio Montaner.

Dr. Julio Montaner’s seminar titled “Treatment as Prevention:  HAART expansion–a powerful strategy to reduce AIDS morbidity and mortality and HIV incidence” introduced the audience to the many different strategies have been employed in attempts to contain the global HIV pandemic so far. His pioneering theory that optimal use of HAART can decrease HIV transmission has recently been upheld by a large scale multi-country NIH study released this month.

In British Columbia, HAART reduced the death rate per 1000 people from 130 in 1993 to 30 in 2003, as well as doubled the life expectancy of peopled infected at the age of 20. In addition, although there were more infants in Canada exposed to mothers with HIV in 2004 than in 1990, the number of infants born HIV positive has decreased greatly. Since viral loads provide scientists a way to predict heterosexual HIV transmissions, HAART has also been used to reduce HIV transmission risk for heterosexual couples by 92%, as well as lessen HIV incidences for injecting drug users. Beyond the local region, this strategy has achieved global impact, especially in areas such as India, Brazil, Thailand, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. In 2011, China also officially announced “HIV testing as prevention and ARV treatment as prevention” as the national AIDS policy for the next five years.

In the future, Dr. Montaner will continue HIV prevention by combining methods such as structural, community, behavoural, and biomedical interventions, along with working to increase HIV testing and HAART coverage.

Drs. Montaner and Yassi

Dr. Montaner speaks to Dr. Annalee Yassi at the NGDI reception.

The insightful seminar took place in the Michael Smith Laboratories Auditorium, with over 100 students and faculty members in attendance. After the session and Q&A period, there was a light reception where attendees were able to speak to Dr. Montaner one-on-one.

The NGDI Working Group would like to thank Dr. Montaner for taking the time out of his busy schedule to be part of our quarterly seminar series.  We sincerely appreciate the tremendous strides that he has made in the HIV/AIDS community, both locally and around the globe.