Why is the government of Manitoba not fully endorsing the Treatment is Prevention approach to HIV-AIDS
British Columbia has used a treatment as prevention approach to HIV-AIDS which has been very successful in reducing the number of new cases of HIV-AIDS in B.C. Manitoba has not acted and the number of cases in Manitoba has remained stable and not decreased. I asked the Minister of Health in Estimates on April 24 about this.
Mr. Gerrard: British Columbia, for a number of years, has taken the approach that treatment of HIV/AIDS is prevention, because current treatment is able to drastically lower the viral load so that people are no longer infectious. We have a considerable number of Manitobans with AIDS who can't afford the treatment. And it has been recommended for a number of years that the treatment for HIV/AIDS be covered completely so that–by the Manitoba Health in order to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Manitoba. In contrast to BC, where the–there's been a dramatic reduction in HIV/AIDS, the incidence has been relatively stable in Manitoba. Is the minister going to take any action on this?
Mr. Goertzen: So the member raises an important issue when it comes to HIV. He's right, I believe, that the rates in Manitoba have remained relatively stable. Of course, we'd always like to see improvements on that.
One of the things that was recently announced, though I don't know that it got a lot of, sort of, public attention, but the–an agreement–bilateral agreement for information sharing with the federal government–the member–I want to disavow him of any idea that I don't give credit where credit is due when it comes to the federal government. We worked together to sign an information-sharing agreement with the federal government in terms of it's called the Panorama program and that's to ensure that information is properly shared, which can have an impact on communicable diseases in the province.
So what was happening prior to the agreement–of course, we're still in the implementation of it–is that the health information for those who were, for example, living off-reserve, wasn't always available to those who were working on-reserve and vice versa. So we wanted to ensure that–for vaccines, as an example, if you got a vaccine off-reserve or in a non‑federal jurisdiction, that that information would be available in the federal jurisdiction, on-reserve, and likewise if you got a vaccination on-reserve that if you were going outside the–into the reserve system, that that information would be provided as well off-reserve so to make the information flow between those two jurisdictions. Previously, that information wasn't shared.
So there was good work done by department officials over the last couple of years in terms of negotiating the agreement so that we could share that information. It's not unlike the information-sharing agreement that we would have with the RHAs, the regional health authorities, to ensure that there is information, that it flows between the RHAs for Manitobans who are accessing care. And now the similar agreement is in place so that those who are on-reserve or off-reserve are–can have that information shared so that when we're dealing with issues like communicable diseases, there's much better information. So, good news, recent news, and I'm pleased to provide that to the committee.