THE GLOBE AND MAIL
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Julio Montaner has garnered a slew of awards and honorary degrees from around the world as his quest to destroy HIV/AIDS gains traction with more political leaders. But shaking the Pope’s hand last week and meeting with Vatican officials about starting up a massive pilot program using the treatment he developed might have been the greatest honour yet for the Vancouver-based doctor who was raised a Catholic in the pontiff’s hometown of Buenos Aires.
“It’s pretty amazing. I must say it was quite a touching moment,” Dr. Montaner said this week from Geneva, where he is working with the United Nations on its global HIV/AIDS reduction plan. “My mother would be very pleased with me. You can’t help it – no matter how old you are, your mother is always with you.”
Dr. Montaner said he had a “brief and very pleasant” meeting with the Pope during a “greeting line” at the Vatican on March 11. He also spent several hours with the Catholic church’s equivalent of a minister of health and a minister of justice, who plan to use his method, called treatment as prevention (TasP), in a pilot program that could involve 140,000 patients in Tanzania. The church, which claims more than a billion members, estimates its umbrella of Catholic organizations provide treatment to about a quarter of all HIV patients around the world through more than 5,000 hospitals and 9,000 orphanages.
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