Nanaimo Daily News (11.16.2013)
The Nanaimo Daily News recently reported that Canada’s British Columbia Centre for Disease Control data indicated new HIV diagnoses in the central Vancouver Island health region remained steady in 2012, but new hepatitis C diagnoses have continued to decline throughout the last 10 years. Central Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Paul Hasselbeck stated that local physicians and health authorities often had requested more resources to offer the population medication and treatment, and the Vancouver Island region was making progress in preventing and treating HIV and hepatitis C.
Island Health opened a new hepatitis C clinic near Nanaimo Regional General Hospital five months ago, and the clinic was already serving approximately 80 clients. Hasselbeck also reported fewer diagnoses of blood-borne diseases among intravenous drug users in the area. Hasselbeck noted that most hepatitis C-infected people acquired the virus decades ago.
British Columbia has invested $20 million in HIV prevention, including one-minute, point-of-care testing. The central Vancouver Island HIV diagnosis rate was three per 100,000 persons, compared with 3.7 cases per 100,000 persons in the southern Island region. Hasselbeck believed health authorities had cut HIV rates in the central Island region by emphasizing HIV screening and better treatment and case management. He cautioned that it would take years to reduce new HIV cases on Vancouver Island to zero.