What is STOP HIV/AIDS®?
Seek and Treat for Optimal HIV Prevention of HIV/AIDS (STOP HIV/AIDS®) aims to expand access to HIV testing, care and treatment for all BC residents, particularly for vulnerable populations experiencing difficulties in accessing traditional services.
STOP HIV/AIDS® began as a four-year pilot project to expand HIV testing, treatment, and support services to medically eligible individuals in British Columbia. The Hon. Kevin Falcon, former Minister of Health Services, announced the program on February 4, 2010. The initial pilot phase was supported by a $48-million funding commitment by the Government of British Columbia to Vancouver Coastal Health, Northern Health, the Provincial Health Services Authority, Providence Health Care, and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.
On April 1, 2013, STOP HIV/AIDS® was expanded to include all British Columbians. The expansion was carried out by the province’s health authorities with support and leadership from the BC-CfE, which continues to monitor and evaluate the progress of the program.
Why is it important?
Although highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has transformed HIV infection into a chronic, manageable condition for many of those who engage in care, this life-saving treatment remains under-utilized in British Columbia. Research from the BC-CfE has shown that nearly 40% of those who died of HIV-related causes in B.C. between 1997 and 2005 never accessed HAART. HAART can also be a powerful tool for HIV prevention by suppressing the virus to undetectable levels in appropriately treated individuals, decreasing the probability of HIV transmission and helping to curb new infections.