Vancouver Coastal Health is reporting a 52 per cent decrease in the number of new HIV cases over the last eight years, and 2019 is on track to have the lowest number of cases since 2003.
In 2018, 86 people in the Vancouver Coastal Health region were diagnosed with HIV, down from 178 new cases in 2011. The downward trend continues this year with 26 new cases as of June 17.
“This is so encouraging to see,” Dr. John Harding, medical health officer, said in a press release. “It shows that our public health approach, including the STOP HIV/AIDS program, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS’s Treatment as Prevention strategy, both made-in-B.C. solutions, are working.”
June 27 was National HIV Testing Day and the theme this year is “Know Your Status.” Vancouver Coastal Health doctors recommend that anyone who is sexually active get tested annually.
“When VCH and Providence Health Care embarked on the provincial STOP HIV/AIDS program in 2009, one in five Canadians living with HIV were estimated to be unaware that they have HIV, and we saw too many people newly diagnosed with HIV already in the advanced stages of disease,” Harding said.
“Today in our region, people are being diagnosed and linked to care earlier, which can prolong and improve people’s lives, as well as reduce transmission to others.”
Free HIV tests are available at a variety of locations in the region including family doctors, walk-in clinics and hospitals.