The Re-Engagement and Engagement in Treatment for Antiretroviral Interrupted and Naïve populations (RETAIN) Initiative is a new partnership with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE), Medical Health Officers from each health authority and HIV outreach personnel throughout British Columbia.

The RETAIN Initiative seeks to promote treatment initiation for HIV-positive British Columbians who have never been treated with HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART) and treatment re-initiation for individuals who have interrupted HIV treatment through ART. On sustained and consistent treatment, people living with HIV (PLHIV) can achieve a viral load that is undetectable by standard blood tests. HIV treatment improves an individual’s quality of life and longevity, while nearly eliminating the chances of transmitting HIV to others. This is the evidence-based concept behind Treatment as Prevention.

The RETAIN Initiative has two key components:

Clinician Alerts

The BC-CfE sends routine alerts to physicians regarding their patients who have interrupted ART. Additionally, alerts have been launched for physicians linked to patients newly diagnosed with HIV who have not yet accessed ART. Both of these alerts include contact information for local public health support.

Routine Coordination of Outreach Support

The core component of RETAIN is the routine province-wide coordination of public health support for people living with HIV (PLHIV) who have interrupted ART or who have yet to initiate therapy. PLHIV will be eligible for this outreach support if: 1) they have interrupted treatment for longer than four months, or 2) they have not yet started treatment more than eight months after a high plasma viral load is reported.

Public health support specified by the RETAIN Initiative aims to ensure all PLHIV have opportunities to access care and treatment. However, the views and decisions of those PLHIV who wish to remain off treatment will be respected. All patient information is kept confidential and is not shared beyond the most trusted public health channels. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC has reviewed this initiative, and it adheres to strict privacy standards and all applicable privacy legislation.