Dr. Julio Montaner to receive the CMA's highest honour

OTTAWA, Aug. 1, 2013 /CNW/ - The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has named Dr. Julio Montaner, a global leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS from Vancouver, the recipient of its 2013 Frederic Newton Gisborne Starr Award.

As a result of Dr. Montaner's work, British Columbia has in the last 20 years seen the incidence of AIDs decline by more than 80 per cent, AIDS mortality rates decline by more than 95 per cent, and new diagnoses of HIV drop by 60 per cent, from about 900 cases a year in the 1990s to fewer than 289 cases in 2011. B.C. is the only region in Canada with consistently declining rates of new HIV infections. Having created in British Columbia a global prototype for HIV/AIDS control, Dr. Montaner has raised real hope that future generations can be AIDS-free.

"Dr. Montaner's research and clinical work in alternative therapeutic strategies has changed how medicine treats and perceives HIV disease," said CMA president Dr. Anna Reid. "The advances he has achieved make him an internationally recognized leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS."

"I am honoured to have been selected to receive the prestigious 2013 CMA Frederic Newton Gisborne Starr Award. This represents a tremendous show of support by my colleagues for the work we have carried out over the last three decades to stop HIV and AIDS," said Dr. Montaner. "This award furthers my commitment to do whatever is needed to ensure that the Treatment as Prevention strategy we pioneered in B.C., in partnership with the provincial government, is promptly, fully and optimally deployed across Canada and the world.

"Together we can stop HIV and AIDS. However, this will not be accomplished unless we redouble our efforts to secure much needed political will and financial support. An HIV and AIDS-free generation is in the balance. Our time to act is now!"

Dr. Montaner studied medicine in Argentina and did his specialty training at the University of British Columbia. Since 1988, he has been director of the AIDS Research Program and director of the John Ruedy Immunodeficiency Clinic at St. Paul's Hospital. In addition to holding the endowed Chair in AIDS Research in the Department of Medicine, he is head of the Division of AIDS within the UBC Department of Medicine, director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, professor of medicine since 1997 and physician program director for the HIV/AIDS Program at Providence Health Care. A former National Health Research Scholar, he co-founded the Canadian Institutes of Health Research HIV Trials Network in 1990. In addition, he is a past president of the International AIDS Society (2008-2010).

Through his early work, he determined a treatment for severe forms of pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), the most frequent cause of death among HIV-infected individuals, that led to a new standard of care. Then, focusing attention on antiretroviral therapies, he played a significant role in establishing the relationship between the development of HIV resistance to nucleoside analogues and clinical progression of the AIDS disease. In 1996 he announced the results of this landmark study that came to establish triple combination therapy as the cornerstone of modern antiretroviral therapy, known today as HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy). As an advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UNAIDS program, in 2000 he was able to advocate for the adoption of HAART as the global standard of therapy. He has been a pioneer in giving marginalized populations access to HAART and played a key role in the establishment and evaluation of the first supervised injection site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. His recent work has concerned the potential role of HAART in the control of HIV transmission.

A member of the Royal Society of Canada, he is the recipient of the Prix Galien Award, the Order of British Columbia, the Albert Einstein World of Science Award, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Dr. Montaner will be presented with the award at a ceremony Aug. 21 held at the Hyatt Regency in Calgary during the CMA's 146th annual meeting.

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association

For further information:

Dominique Jolicoeur, Communications Officer
Tel.: 613-731-8610 or 800-663-7336 ext. 2038
Cell: 613-809-5669

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