Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Vancouver hospital 'closes' dedicated AIDS ward

"Today, we are making world history," said Premier Christy Clark. "Not so long ago, diagnosis of HIV/AIDS was a death sentence. Today, people living with HIV can come to St. Paul's to get support and treatment." 

B.C.'s premier was in Vancouver this morning to help announce the symbolic "closure" of St. Paul's Hospital's dedicated AIDS ward.

"This is such a big milestone," Clark said. "I can think no better reason to close and repurpose a hospital ward than lack of demand."

Ward 10-C originally opened in February 1997, when nearly one person succumbed to AIDS every day in the city. It was a place where people went to die, said the premier. 

But since then, HIV-related mortality has plummeted in the city, dropping by over 80 per cent. According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver had 131 new HIV diagnoses in 2012, nearly 20 per cent less than in 2011.

Vancouver is the first city worldwide to refocus its AIDS ward, said Michel Sidibé, secretary and executive director for UNAIDS who attended Tuesday's announcement. "It is here in British Columbia that we start saying to the world that ending AIDS is not a dream. It is possible."

Dr. Julio Montaner, director for the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, said the city has virtually controlled AIDS. "New AIDS cases are far more rare today than ever before. We have watched a pandemic disease turn into an endemic disease."

But the doctor believes progress must still be made at the national level. He's pushed for a country-wide strategy to provide free access to HIV treatment for some time now. 

"If every province was doing what B.C. has done, we would be celebrating together," Montaner said. "Unfortunately the lack of federal leadership in this regard is an impediment for moving forward."

Emi Sasagawa is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus