Operations research applied to assess different strategies to reduce the public health and economic burdens of HIV/AIDS in British Columbia

Although traditional HIV prevention strategies — behaviour modification, condoms, needle exchange – have been very successful, their effect has reached a plateau since they are not always available, practical, or fully adhered to. In the past five years, research has shown that using antiretroviral therapy (ART) to treat those infected with HIV not only decreases mortality and morbidity but also decreases HIV transmission. Unfortunately, many individuals are still unaware that they are HIV-positive or that they should be on ART, since they have not been linked to our health-care system. These individuals will unnecessarily suffer from their disease and they will incur avoidable hospitalizations, physician visits, and costs.

Dr. Viviane Lima aims to identify different strategies to decrease the public health and economic burdens of HIV in British Columbia (BC). Since individuals living with HIV should follow the same continuum of care from infection until the time of first ART, diminishing the individual and economic burdens of HIV will require a combined effort of different players in our health-care system and the development of a comprehensive strategy to tackle each component in the continuum of care pathway. Lima’s research will employ innovative statistical and mathematical models to analyze these data and compare the potential effects of different complex strategies. This project will create great opportunities for trainees to be supported across a variety of disciplines, further enhancing BC’s competitive advantage in population-health and HIV research. The proposed methodology can also be applied to other diseases, conditions, and settings dealing with similar issues.