Tag Archives: Julio Montaner

Facts and Opinions that matter this week

CCM Tackaberry skates worn by Jean Béliveau when he scored his 500th goal, on February 11, 1971. These are at the lac aux Castors Pavilion, Mount Royal, Quebec, Canada. Photo by Simon Pierre Barrette via Wikipedia, Creative Commons

READ: Thank you, Jean Béliveau. Photo of the skates Béliveau wore for his 500th goal by Simon Pierre Barrette via Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Facts and Opinions this week features two elegant pieces about people who mattered in the worlds of sports and music: E. Kaye Fulton’s tribute to “glorious gentleman” Jean Béliveau (open), and Brian Brennan’s Brief Encounter with conductor Mario Bernardi, who veered off the beaten path (subscription).

From the academy, don’t miss the essay by economist Warwick Smith, who won a New Philosopher award for The perils of the last human: flaws in modern economics. Our fate is not determined, even by the economy, Smith insists: “The fact that our economic system is a social construct means that we have made a choice, even if an unconscious one, and that we can remake that choice.”

Also from the academy comes a call by John Wright to repair the shattered democracy in some Western countries,  Ideal democracy hears both whispers and shouts.

Rod Mickleburgh marked World AIDS Day with a profile of Julio Montanter, a global leader in the war on HIV/AIDS, and Michael Sasges looked into the history of one of the most popular pieces of season music and the man, John Mason Neale, who popularized O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Canadians of a certain age, and people in dozens of countries helped by her work, will remember humanitarian Lotta Hitschmanova, (AKA the “Atomic Mosquito”), profiled on on the 125th anniversary of her birth by Joyce Thierry Llewellyn.

Azerbaijan's Kelaghavi headscarfs are key to Azerbaijan culture. Photo by Retlaw Snellac, Creative Commons

Kelaghavi headscarfs are key to Azerbaijan culture. Photo by Retlaw Snellac, Creative Commons

In reports, we offer a photographic sample  of the cultural ‘intangibles’ UNESCO deems world-class treasures; a crime/science piece about how the cold case of the English King Richard III was solved 529 years after his killing; and a global report on transparency and corruption, in which it seems Nothing is rotten in Denmark.

Facts and Opinions columnists this week turned their attention to the far east and the United States.  Jonathan Manthorpe  nods at Shakespeare with Uneasy lies the head that wears Thailand’s Crown (paywall), and Tom Regan writes on the incendiary issue of police killings, Why the United States is perilous for young men.

We continue our ongoing work on energy and climate change issues, with upcoming stories on a pipeline protest on a British Columbia mountain, a video, and the third in Jim McNiven’s THOUGHTLINES series on oil price changes. Meantime, read Chris Wood’s column From Lima to Burnaby: the ‘Glocal’ Response to Climate (subscription), and drop  by our photo gallery, Pipeline Protest on Burnaby Mountain.

Finally, in case you missed them earlier:

Recent columns include On being a feminist by Tom Regan; Ferguson’s Damned Details, by Deborah Jones; and Jonathan Manthorpe on Zimbabwe, today – The Rise of “Gucci Grace,” Zimbabwe’s “First Shopper — and in Manthorpe’s own past, One man’s thrust for survival in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

Electric ink and aromapoetry  feature in Andrew Prescott’s science/arts piece about the much discussed “death of the book;” while Michael Sasges unearthed a research report that casts doubt on the effectiveness of bombing ISIS into submission, reported in  
Verbatim: Bombing to lose; air attacks bolster insurgents.

In arts, fans of the TV series Homeland will appreciate a piece about Carrie Mathison, and mental illness on TV, by Meron Wondemaghen, and an appreciation by Susan Fast: Michael Jackson: Posthuman.  Marguerite Johnson writes on grim fairy tales in Reader beware: the nasty new edition of the Brothers Grimm.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s call to action is worth a second look: F&O’s page includes the transcript and video of the American author’s attack on “ignorance and greed,” and demand for respect for artists in a perilous world in need of writers who “see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being.”

READ: Richard III – case closed, 529 years later. Skeleton of Richard III. University of Leicester photo

READ: Richard III – case closed, 529 years later. Skeleton of Richard III. University of Leicester photo

 

 

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Click here to purchase a $1 day pass or subscription, from at $2.95 per month to $19.95 annually. Subscribe by email using the form on the right to our free FRONTLINES blog. Find news in REPORTS; commentary, analysis, magazine and arts writing in OPINION/FEATURES, and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and check our Contents page for regular updates.

 

 

 

 

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Ending AIDS by 2030: The doctor who found the key

In May Vancouver's St. Paul's hospital closed its dedicated AIDS ward due to lack of patients.  Julio Montaner at a news conference announcing the success of treatment. Photo from B.C. government

Julio Montaner in May, 2014, when Vancouver’s St. Paul’s hospital closed ward 10C, opened in 1997 and dedicated to AIDS patients, because of the success of treatments. B.C. government photo.

On World Aids Day today, Rod Mickleburgh profiled Julio Montaner, the Argentine/Canada doctor who’s led the successful fight against HIV/AIDS using harm reduction strategies.

The United Nations agency UNAIDS said in a release its goal of “ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 is possible, but only by closing the gap between people who have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services and people who are being left behind.” The numbers from UNAIDS are so stark it’s hard to believe the epidemic can be ended in 16 years:

  • In 2013, there were 35 million [33.2 million–37.2 million] people living with HIV. Since the start of the epidemic, around 78 million [71 million–87 million] people have become infected with HIV and 39 million [35 million–43 million] people have died of AIDS-related illnesses.
  • Worldwide, 2.1 million [1.9 million–2.4 million] people became newly infected with HIV in 2013.
  • Worldwide, 240 000 [210 000–280 000] children became newly infected with HIV in 2013.
  • In 2013, 1.5 million [1.4 million–1.7 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide.
  • In 2013, around 12.9 million people living with HIV had access to antiretroviral therapy.
  • This represents 37% [35–39%] of all people living with HIV, yet only 24% [22–26%] of all children living with HIV are receiving the life-saving medicines.
  • Tuberculosis remains the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, with an estimated 320 000 [300 000–340 000] deaths in 2012.
  • HIV is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age.
  • In 2013, 54% of pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries did not receive an HIV test.
  • In 2013, almost 60% of all new HIV infections among young people aged 15–24 occurred among adolescent girls and young women.
  • AIDS-related illnesses are the leading cause of death among adolescents aged 10–19 years in Africa.
  • Globally, gay men and other men who have sex with men are 19 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population.
  • HIV prevalence among sex workers is 12 times greater than among the general population.
  • Transgender women are 49 times more likely to acquire HIV than all adults of reproductive age.
  • HIV prevalence is estimated to be up to 28 times higher among people who inject drugs than the general population.

Writes Mickleburgh, in JULIO MONTANER: doctor led harm reduction in global HIV/AIDS fight:

 … it was Dr. Montaner who first championed the powerful anti-retroviral drug cocktail therapy that has turned HIV/AIDS into a manageable, chronic disease.

And it was Dr. Montaner who then went on to develop the groundbreaking Treatment as Prevention strategy, as he realized that these anti-retroviral drugs reduced the viral load of HIV patients to such minimal levels the danger of passing the virus on to others was eliminated. Hence, if enough patients were treated, transmission could be stopped in its tracks.

In British Columbia, aggressive employment of Treatment as Prevention, seeking out those on the margins of society, has slashed the number of new infections by more than 70 per cent. This in a province whose drug-riddled, impoverished Downtown Eastside area in Vancouver once had the highest HIV infection rate in the developed world.

Dr. Montaner’s once controversial strategy has now been adopted by the World Health Organization and is being pursued in a growing number of countries, including China and Brazil. Thanks to these advances, the dream of a world without AIDS is no longer just fantasy.  Read JULIO MONTANER: doctor led harm reduction in global HIV/AIDS fight (no charge*)

 

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Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

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JULIO MONTANER: doctor led harm reduction in global HIV/AIDS fight

ROD MICKLEBURGH 
December 1, 2014 

Julio Montaner. Official photo, B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIIDS

Julio Montaner. Official photo, B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIIDS

Though still not widely known outside his home Canadian province of British Columbia, Julio Montaner has arguably done more than any medical doctor in the world to save lives in the ongoing struggle to combat the ravages of AIDS.

From his small, cluttered office in Vancouver’s elderly St. Paul’s Hospital, it was Dr. Montaner who first championed the powerful anti-retroviral drug cocktail therapy that has turned HIV/AIDS into a manageable, chronic disease.

And it was Dr. Montaner who then went on to develop the groundbreaking Treatment as Prevention strategy, as he realized that these anti-retroviral drugs reduced the viral load of HIV patients to such minimal levels the danger of passing the virus on to others was eliminated. Hence, if enough patients were treated, transmission could be stopped in its tracks.

In B.C., aggressive employment of Treatment as Prevention, seeking out those on the margins of society, has slashed the number of new infections by more than 70 per cent. This in a province whose drug-riddled, impoverished Downtown Eastside area in Vancouver once had the highest HIV infection rate in the developed world.

Dr. Montaner’s once controversial strategy has now been adopted by the World Health Organization and is being pursued in a growing number of countries, including China and Brazil. Thanks to these advances, the dream of a world without AIDS is no longer just fantasy. This year, UNAIDS set 2030 as a target date for the end of a disease that has killed untold millions around the globe.

“Of course, there is no end to AIDS,” Dr. Montaner explained in an interview. “We are talking about the end of the pandemic as we knew it, and recognizing that people with HIV will not necessarily progress to AIDS, leading normal lives into their 70’s.”

Yet, on World AIDS Day, despite achievements that have won him multiple honours and these tantalizing glimpses of an AIDS-free world, the Argentinian-born Dr. Montanter, at 58, remains restless. There is still so much to be done.

His active mind is beginning to branch towards other infectious diseases. If Treatment as Prevention works to ease the spread of AIDS, why not apply it, say, to Hepatitis B and C, and then, even further to lessen such socially contagious afflictions as smoking, obesity and addiction, itself?

Employ the same principle of aggressively treating those afflicted and engaging with struggling individuals at risk, he proposes.

That message is occupying increasing amounts of Dr. Montaner’s seemingly boundless time and energy. Spend money now for better health later on and, in the long run, costs to the beleaguered health care system are substantially reduced.

“I would never have dreamed that we would have been able to rise this wave of success after success, innovation after innovation, and be able to use our [AIDS/HIV] program to influence the world the way we have,” Dr. Montaner said. “We have demonstrated there is a different way of doing business, to take a pro-active approach, and it is a money-saving strategy.”

In May, Vancouver's St. Paul's hospital closed its dedicated ward for AIDS -- due to lack of patients.  Stigma and despair overshadowed the limited medical interventions that could be provided. Opened in 1997, the ward saw an average of one AIDS-related death every day during its darkest days.   But today, in a historic symbolic move, St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver announced that Ward 10C has outlived its role as the place where life ended. Julio Montaner at a news conference announcing the success of treatment. Photo from B.C. government

Julio Montaner, above, at a news conference in May 2014. Vancouver’s St. Paul’s hospital announced closure of ward 10C, opened in 1997 and dedicated to AIDS patients, because of the success of treatments. B.C. government photo.

At the same time, however, Dr. Montaner has hardly forgotten the cause that has consumed him for the past 25 years. Even as he involves himself in and welcomes the ambitious new UNAIDS program, he continues to be angry and frustrated by the failure of the rest of his own country, Canada, to buy into Treatment as Prevention.

While the strategy produces dramatic results in B.C., where it is strongly supported by the provincial government, infection rates are on the rise in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and the federal government sits on the sidelines.

“When you think about it, this life-saving treatment, the role model we have created in British Columbia for dealing with HIV/AIDS is probably one of the biggest public health successes in the history of Canada,” he said. “Yet people are still sitting around and looking the other way. I can’t shake the feeling. That’s wrong. That’s deeply, deeply wrong.”

I have interviewed Dr. Montaner many times. Each conversation is always the same. I sit back and let his passion roll on over what he and his colleagues are doing in their long, long battle against HIV/AIDS roll on. I barely have to say a word. He is driven by the fight.

Only when I suggest that he must be incredibly satisfied by having such an impact on the lives of so many people does the perpetually loquacious doctor become tongue-tied. “I honestly…I’m humbled, honoured….” He stopped, searching for the right words. “I try to adopt a graceful attitude to this incredible opportunity to be able to help people come up with something….

“My goal back in Argentina was to develop better public health. I managed to do that from here, and I can only be grateful for that. I feel myself incredibly blessed that I had this opportunity.”And the world has been blessed, too.

 Copyright Rod Mickleburgh 2014

References and further reading:

United Nations — UNAIDS, press release for World Aids Day 2014
British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
, directed by Julio Montaner 
Wikipedia page for Julio Montaner 
Julio Montaner 2010 award by the Albert Einstein World Award of Science, by the World Cultural Council 

 

UNAIDS statistics on HIV/AIDS:

  • In 2013, there were 35 million [33.2 million–37.2 million] people living with HIV. Since the start of the epidemic, around 78 million [71 million–87 million] people have become infected with HIV and 39 million [35 million–43 million] people have died of AIDS-related illnesses.
  • Worldwide, 2.1 million [1.9 million–2.4 million] people became newly infected with HIV in 2013.
  • Worldwide, 240 000 [210 000–280 000] children became newly infected with HIV in 2013.
  • In 2013, 1.5 million [1.4 million–1.7 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide.
  • In 2013, around 12.9 million people living with HIV had access to antiretroviral therapy.
  • This represents 37% [35–39%] of all people living with HIV, yet only 24% [22–26%] of all children living with HIV are receiving the life-saving medicines.
  • Tuberculosis remains the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, with an estimated 320 000 [300 000–340 000] deaths in 2012.
  • HIV is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age.
  • In 2013, 54% of pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries did not receive an HIV test.
  • In 2013, almost 60% of all new HIV infections among young people aged 15–24 occurred among adolescent girls and young women.
  • AIDS-related illnesses are the leading cause of death among adolescents aged 10–19 years in Africa.
  • Globally, gay men and other men who have sex with men are 19 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population.
  • HIV prevalence among sex workers is 12 times greater than among the general population.
  • Transgender women are 49 times more likely to acquire HIV than all adults of reproductive age.
  • HIV prevalence is estimated to be up to 28 times higher among people who inject drugs than the general population.

 

Doctors Julio Montaner and Thomas Kerr .Photo by Brent Granby Creative Commons

Doctors Julio Montaner and Thomas Kerr at a 2011 Vancouver news conference, after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against federal government efforts to close the city’s Insite injection site.  Montaner and his colleagues led the harm reduction strategy in Canada’s westernmost province. Photo by Brent Granby Creative Commons

 

 

Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, Facts and Opinions performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from non-journalism foundations or causes. We appreciate and need your support: please click here to purchase a $1 day pass, or subscribe.   Sign up in the form to the right, on our blog, to receive a free email subscription to blog posts and notices of new work. Contact us at Editor AT factsandopinions.com.

 

 

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