From the 2013 Influencer Index: This doctor from Argentina has changed the face of HIV/AIDS treatment since moving to B.C.
This Argentinian transplant arrived in B.C. for a post-doctoral fellowship at UBC just as the HIV/AIDS epidemic detonated in the early 1980s. In his three decades in the province, Dr. Julio Montaner has helped remove the disease’s stigma and saved millions of lives.
During clinical trials in 1996, Montaner co-discovered one of the biggest single contributions to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS: A triple-drug therapy that is still the gold standard for treatment today. The highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has taken the automatic death sentence off HIV diagnoses.
In addition to his research and clinical practice, these days Montaner acts as an advocate for prevention through treatment. He is the director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at St. Paul’s Hospital and served as a past president of the International AIDS Society. He is also the chair in AIDS research and head of the division of AIDS in the UBC Faculty of Medicine. In March 2012, Montaner was awarded the Grand Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria for his pioneering research, a prestigious international award from the president of Austria. Montaner says his work won’t be done, however, until there is an HIV- and AIDS-free generation.
“This is a huge revolutionary approach—within a generation—to trying to control what was once a totally out-of-control pandemic,” he says. “For the most part, it could really become a thing of the past if we applied what we have shown is the best treatment, but at the same time the best prevention.”