Director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and Professor of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Montaner has been a tireless advocate for improving the efficacy and accessibility of HIV treatment and care. Literally thousands of British Columbians are alive today because of his leadership. Throughout his career, he has been dedicated to providing innovative healthcare services to a population that, for a variety of reasons, has difficulty accessing treatment.
In the early 1980s, AIDS hit Vancouver hard, and as a young respiratory specialist at St. Paul’s Hospital, Dr. Montaner found himself treating some of the earliest cases. At a time when the disease was poorly understood and highly stigmatized, he took on the challenge of AIDS and never looked back. More than three decades later, HIV/ AIDS remains a serious health issue facing British Columbians and Dr. Montaner has made significant advances that are turning the tide of the epidemic.
In the mid 1990s, Dr. Montaner’s innovative experimentation led to the development of High Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART), a triple-drug therapy that has become the gold standard of HIV treatment. To an HIV-positive person, this has had life-changing implications; they can live longer, and with a higher quality of life. He has since advanced the thinking on this work, developing a new strategy called Treatment as Prevention. This involves engaging HIV positive individuals earlier into treatment, reducing the virus to almost undetectable levels in the body, making it very difficult to transmit. Has this been successful? You better believe it! But don’t take my word for it: luminaries, including President Bill Clinton, UNAIDS Executive Director Michele Sidebe, and Stephen Lewis, will tell you Dr. Montaner has changed the lives of millions of people worldwide. His patients, like Tiko Kerr, will tell you that they credit him with saving their lives, and the lives of many more.
Although Treatment as Prevention was initially met with resistance when Dr. Montaner first announced it at the July 2006 International AIDS Conference in Toronto, it gained global recognition as the most promising strategy in preventing HIV transmission. Indeed, the exceptional leadership and creativity Dr. Montaner has exhibited throughout his career has made Vancouver a model for the world in treating HIV/AIDS. WHO and UNAIDS get it. They’ve adopted this strategy (as has China) and the US has identified Treatment as Prevention as a key strategy to achieve an AIDS Free Generation.
We’re excited that TELUS is helping us bring you the Most Awesome Awards. A longtime friend of V.I.A., TELUS is passionate about giving back to the community by recognizing, celebrating and supporting great community partners, friends and neighbours making a difference in the lives of others. Watch in the coming weeks as we roll out all of the Most Awesome Awards presented by TELUS.