Thursday, June 5, 2014

Douglas College honours HIV/AIDS researcher Julio Montaner

Douglas College is today awarding its highest distinction, honorary fellowship, to Dr. Julio Montaner, a renowned researcher and pioneer in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“I am very thankful and honoured to receive this special distinction from Douglas College. This fellowship is a testament to the work my colleagues and I have carried out over the last three decades to stop HIV and AIDS,” says Dr. Montaner, Director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE).

In addition to being Director of the BC-CfE, Dr. Montaner is a Professor of Medicine at UBC and has held the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation/University of British Columbia Endowed Chair in AIDS Research since 1996.

Dr. Montaner has been a tireless advocate for improving the efficacy and accessibility of HIV treatment and care. In the mid-1990s, his innovative research led to the development of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), a triple-drug therapy which lowers HIV levels in the bloodstream and improves the immune system. HAART is now the gold standard of HIV treatment.

Over the past decade, a main focus of his work has been the development and implementation of an approach known as Treatment as Prevention. This approach calls for early engagement of HIV-positive individuals into treatment to reduce the virus to undetectable levels in the body, making it very difficult to transmit and improving health outcomes drastically.

“The Treatment as Prevention strategy we pioneered here in British Columbia, in partnership with the provincial government, is a game-changer in the fight against HIV and AIDS. It’s worked here in B.C. to dramatic effect and other countries have begun to follow our lead, including China, Brazil, France, Spain, and Panama. If adopted globally, this strategy could drastically curb morbidity, mortality, and transmission with remarkable economic impact,” Dr. Montaner says.

“We are proud to recognize Dr. Montaner with our institution's highest distinction, Honorary Fellowship. As an internationally recognized leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS, his research and advocacy have changed and saved countless lives. He is a remarkable inspiration to not only our college community but also to an entire generation of people,” Douglas College President Scott McAlpine says.

“Dr. Montaner has tackled one of the most serious health and social issues of our time. It is our privilege to recognize his dedication and inspiring work,” Douglas College Board Chair Shelley Williams says.