Dr. Julio Montaner and his colleagues at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS pioneered the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) program, which now allows people with HIV to live a near-normal lifestyle.

This approach, which included going into the community to seek out undiagnosed people living with HIV, has been replicated around the world, Lake said. B.C. is also the only province showing a consistent decline in HIV diagnoses: 238 in 2012 compared with 850 in the mid 1990s, Lake said.

That said, there are still an estimated 12,000 people living with HIV in B.C. who need to be supported, and other provinces have not had the same success in fighting the disease.

“We know in Saskatchewan, for instance, there’s a large increase in HIV infections, particularly in First Nations communities,” Lake said. “We need to share the work that’s been done in B.C. to other places. But even here in B.C. … we need to normalize HIV testing. There should be no stigma in having an HIV test. Until we know who is carrying the virus, we can’t eliminate it.

The results: undetectable viral loads and almost eradicated risk of HIV transmission.”