“He changes the world every day.”
In 1981, Dr. Montaner joined UBC and completed his postgraduate and residency training. As a young internist, he treated some of the earliest cases of AIDS in Canada.
Since 1998, he has been the director of the UBC/SPH-AIDS Research Program and the Immunodeficiency Clinic. Having learned the power of combination drug treatment for tuberculosis from his father, Dr. Luis Julio Gonzalez Montaner, he began exploring combination antiretroviral therapy regimens for his patients in 1990, eventually leading an international consortium of investigators to test a novel triple drug combination called ‘highly active antiretroviral therapy’ (HAART) to suppress the progression of HIV disease. In 1996, HAART became the new standard of care in HIV medicine in North America and Europe, and was eventually adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS as the global standard in 2000.
With his team, he established the impact of HAART on decreasing HIV transmission in BC, pioneering the notion of Treatment as Prevention (TasP). Embraced by UNAIDS in 2010, TasP was fully incorporated in the WHO Consolidated ARV Guidelines in 2013. In September 2014, his TasP-inspired 90-90-90 Target was formally endorsed by the UN Secretary General as the new global strategy to eliminate the HIV pandemic. This calls for 90% of HIV cases to be diagnosed, 90% of them to have access to HAART, and 90% of them to be virologically suppressed globally. Meeting the 90-90-90 Target by 2020 is expected to lead to a 90% decrease in AIDS mortality and HIV incidence globally by 2030, transforming the devastating HIV pandemic into a rare endemic condition.
Dr. Montaner has also launched multiple initiatives to improve access to HAART among hard-to-reach populations. Of particular note was his role in the establishment and success of North America’s first legal, supervised injection site - InSite in Vancouver.
His many honours include the Prix Galien, FNG Starr Award of the CMA, Rx&D Health Research Foundation Medal of Honour and Albert Einstein World of Science Award. He is an officer of the Order of Canada, and a member of the Order of British Columbia, the Order of Austria and the Royal Society of Canada.