What is one of Vancouver's strengths in the fight for progress in HIV/AIDS treatment?
That's one quality members of a delegation of Jamaican media and political figures took note of during a visit to share knowledge and understanding about the disease.
"Vancouver is so civil. And we know that civility is needed to make any progress," Dervan Malcolm, an energetic and successful radio talk show host on leading Jamaican station Power 106 FM told The Tyee. "I am impressed with what we are learning about HIV/AIDS treatment here."
Civility might be the underlying value. But a groundbreaking, made-in-B.C. program helps, too.
The delegates offered their comments days before the B.C. government announced that a pilot project called "Stop HIV/AIDS," with the aim to end HIV transmission, will go province-wide starting April 1.
Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid said yesterday that the government is committing $19.9 million in annual funding to new outreach programs, testing methods, more front-line staff and to cover other prevention and treatment programs, according to a Canadian Press report.
Since the project's launch in 2009, infection rates in B.C. have dropped dramatically. Julian Montaner, leader of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, said the program is working towards eliminating the disease altogether in the province.
The delegates from Jamaica visited the centre earlier this week, and sat down with The Tyee to discuss impressions of Vancouver's approach to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, and impressions of their own country's efforts.
The rate of HIV prevalence for adults in Jamaica was believed to be 1.7 per cent, or about 32,000 people, in 2009. In the same year roughly 65,000 Canadians were believed to be living with HIV/AIDS, mainly in B.C., Ontario and Quebec.