AIDS Not Yet “Cured” Says Vancouver Charity
A Loving Spoonful Executive Director says yesterday’s announcement of a successful HIV/AIDS treatment is promising, but large-scale cure is still years away
With Dining Out For Life, British Columbia’s largest restaurant HIV/AIDS fundraisers, just a week away on Thursday, March 14, 2019, the world welcomed news from the UK: A second case of long-term remission of HIV in a patient following an experimental treatment.
While Vancouver-based not-for-profit A Loving Spoonful is thrilled with the potential of this breakthrough, Executive Director Lisa Martella joins HIV/AIDS relief agencies across the globe in cautioning the public that reports of a “cure” are premature. “This procedure certainly offers a glimmer of hope, but we’re far from the end,” says Martella from the charity’s headquarters in Vancouver, BC.
Yesterday’s announcement of the “London patient” in the international journal of science, Nature, is similar in approach to 2007’s “Berlin patient” — an HIV-positive man underwent a bone marrow stem cell transplant from a donor with a genetic mutation resistant to HIV infection.
“It’s taken nearly 12 years to replicate the 2007 ‘Berlin’ results and this type of procedure is risky and will never be available on a mass scale,” says Martella. “It’s more accurate to say this case will help guide researchers working on gene and antibody therapies for HIV, but a cure is still years, if not decades away.”
Martella points to several inquiries she received yesterday and today asking when A Loving Spoonful (which provides meal delivery and nutritional services to individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS) could expect to close its doors. “The timing was especially concerning for us in that one of our largest fundraisers, Dining Out For Life, takes place next Thursday, March 14,” she says, adding:
“It’s estimated that six people become newly infected with HIV each and every single day across the Canada. Those 2,000 yearly new infections and the thousands of existing cases need help and support now so they can hopefully take advantage of an actual cure when it’s discovered.”
HIV/AIDS IN THE LOWER MAINLAND:
- 1.8 million people contracted Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) worldwide in 2017.
- There are over 63,000 people in Canada living with HIV.
- A total of 2,402 new HIV diagnoses were reported in Canada in 2017 — an increase of 3% over 2016 and an increase of 17.1% since 2014.
- The national diagnosis rate increased slightly as well, from 6.4 per 100,000 population in 2016 to 6.5 per 100,000 population in 2017.
— source: Haddad N, Li JS, Totten S, McGuire M. HIV in Canada–Surveillance Report, 2017
ABOUT A LOVING SPOONFUL:
A Loving Spoonful provides free, healthy, nutritious meals and nutritional counselling to individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS and other co-existing illness such as cancer, Hep C and diabetes. Due to the complex medical conditions of our clients, A Loving Spoonful collaborates closely with doctors, dieticians, nurses, case managers and community partners for referrals and client care. A Loving Spoonful works with engaged local businesses such as Richmond’s Mava Foods as well as an army of dedicated volunteers who use their own cars, gas and time to ensure people in need in the community are fed. But, with approximately 20% government funding, the rest of A Loving Spoonful’s outreach budget must be raised through events such as Dining Out For Life.
Media release provided by Steven Schelling, Camber Communications.