Training to improve HIV care

By Caroline Dobuzinskis


Since its launch in 2011, the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE)’s highly regarded Education and Training program has engaged over 13,500 participants in educational programs and events by the end of June 2018. Of those, over 11,000 participated lecture events, over 1,400 took online courses and over 580 attended clinical training programs.

“The BC-CfE clinical education program aims to diminish barriers to continuing education on HIV care and prevention for health care providers and the community at large, including those who may be in underserved or remote areas,” says Dr. Silvia Guillemi, Director of the BC-CfE Education and Training Program.

In October, Dr. Guillemi received the UBC Faculty of Medicine Award for Innovation in Continuing Professional Development/Continuing Medical Education. The honour recognized that Dr. Guillemi and her team had implemented “unique and innovative opportunities for training and education in the field of HIV/AIDS in BC”.

To offer learners the most up-to-date content, the award-winning education programming often corresponds with the latest HIV care initiatives, highlighting new research from BC, Canada and abroad. The most recently launched training program will provide nurse practitioners in BC with the knowledge required to prescribe and monitor post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for people at risk of acquiring HIV. This program was developed to facilitate access to HIV prevention medications (tenofovir/emtricitabine) that have been publicly available to eligible individuals in BC since January of this year.


The BC-CfE’s Education and Training programs reach individuals in multiple professional roles—from health care providers to researchers to community workers and people living with HIV. They are accessed from within all of BC’s Health Authorities, as well as nationally and internationally. Reaching thousands with training programs for HIV prevention and care in British Columbia is key to improving access to the successful Treatment as Prevention® (TasP® ) strategy.


A large portion of the programming is globally accessible through online courses and online video access to lectures. Offline, the BC-CfE’s Intensive Preceptorship Program is a postgraduate program for family physicians and nurse practitioners that provides more hands-on, specialized clinical training. There is also a three-month-long UBC Enhanced Skills in HIV/AIDS residency program for family physicians.

The preceptorship consists of an online component followed by clinical placements at HIV clinics and other associated sites. Trainees participate in a series of tutorial lunch sessions focused on key issues related to the care of people living with HIV and their individualized learning objectives. Once the clinical placement is completed the trainees will access the ongoing mentorship. Feedback on the intensive preceptorship has been positive; trainees have expressed it has increased confidence when caring for people living with HIV and provides accessible, quality education.

Recently, the BC-CfE hosted a delegation of family physicians from Saskatchewan—Drs. Sarafa Tijani, Natasha McNamara, and Laura Marshall—for the week-long preceptorship. Their visit was arranged by the Saskatchewan Infectious Disease Care Network. In addition to increasing HIV prevention and care knowledge, the program highlighted how interprofessional teams could provide HIV care that addresses issues related to social determinants of health and harm reduction.

“It’s really nice to see how all the disciplines work together as a team. The medical side of HIV is just one small facet and it’s nice to see how the social determinants of health are addressed here,” said Dr. Marshall.

“It gave me lots of things to take back to my practice and my community,” says Dr. McNamara.

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Caroline Dobuzinskis is the Communications Coordinator at theBC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.