Tag Archives: Dr. Brian Conway MD FRCPC

VIDC November Highlights

Here’s a quick snapshot of some important updates from VIDC.

UBC iCON South Asian CPC


On November 28, 2015 the VIDC team held its third special CPC. VIDC Community Pop-Up Clinics are are constantly evolving to accommodating different communities that would benefit from point-of-care testing for either HIV, HCV, or both. This year we have done a CPC at the World Hepatitis Day Vancouver Event 2015 for attendees, one for the Chinese community at the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Health Fair 2015, and now a one for the South Asian Community.  Just like the first two events, VIDC provided point-of-care HCV Testing, FibroScan® Testing, and a specialist consult for those who test positive


As a medical and research clinic, VIDC is involved with a number of clinical trials — specifically trials in HIV and HCV. One of which is AMBER, an AbbVie clinical study focused on treating chronic hepatitis C infection for genotype 1. Consequently, the VIDC team — led by Dr. Brian Conway — successfully enrolled the very first patient for the study.

AMBER Study November Newsletter
AMBER Study November Newsletter

Clinical studies like these are a very integral part of the cascade of care we provide at VIDC. These studies allow us to further engage patients in care, and provide them access (when applicable) to treatment options that are only available through clinical studies.

Red Ribbons for Life (RR4L)

Red Ribbons for Life 8 last November 29 was a huge success! Community organizations and its supporters, local politicians, pharmaceutical company representatives, and amazing performers came together to help raise money and awareness for HIV.

And of course, VIDC was there to support the cause — and to listen to our President and Medical Director, Dr. Brian Conway, give the keynote speech for the evening.

Dr. Conway with fellow Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Excellence in the Field of HIV/AIDS in Canada Honoree, Bradford McIntyre, at RR4L 8. [PC Brad McIntyre]

It was a lovely evening filled with music, laughter, and show-stopping performances shared with friends and family all present to support the fundraising efforts of RR4L.


Red Ribbons 4 Life!

The Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre (VIDC) and the Empire of the Peace Arch Monarchist Association (Imperial Sovereign Court of Surrey) together with Lookout Emergency Aid Society (formerly KEYS Housing & Health Solutions) invite you to the 8th Annual Red Ribbons For Life (RR4L).

RR4L PostCard JPEG

This event was founded in 2008 by Martin Rooney as a part of the campaign to remove the US HIV Travel Ban. Proceeds have surpassed $35,000 since its inception and have benefitted two worthy organizations — primarily the Surrey HIV Food Bank (operated by Lookout) and AIDS Tijuana (Traux House), a clinic in Tijuana Mexico operating with funds raised through the International Court System and the Imperial Court de San Diego California.

Red Ribbons 4 Life has now become the largest single, one-night benefit for AIDS in the lower mainland outside the city of Vancouver!

It will definitely be a night to remember with breath-taking performances, an informative keynote address, an AIDS Memorial ceremony, silent and live auctions, and raffle draws — all while raising funds and awareness for the on-going battle with HIV!

(PC: Emma Briones) Dr. Brian Conway MD FRCPC is following-up on his popular addresses at the last two years’ events this year for RR4L 8!

VIDC’s President and Medical Director, Dr. Brian Conway, will be giving the keynote address at the event.

World renowned Live Female Impersonator, Bobby Drake, is the headline performer for the celebration. A number of amazing local talent — Miz Adrien, Jennifer Geddes, Kiki LaWhore, Robin Loveless, and more — will also be gracing the stage with their performances!

We invite you to join us in making this event successful!

Details of the event are as follows:

Red Ribbons 4 Life 8th Annual Campaign

When: Sunday (November 29) 6-10PM
Where: The Columbia Theatre (530 Columbia St. New Westminster BC)
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Brian Conway MD FRCPC
Tickets: $25CAD*
Tickets can be purchased from the website.
*Early bird rate until November 15, 2015. Regular price would be: $35CAD
**A cash bar and food menu will be available

If you have any questions about the event, or issues concerning ticket purchase, contact: rr4life@shaw.ca

We hope to see you there!

VIDC September Multicultural Highlights

Last week VIDC had the opportunity to get involved with two momentous community-focused events by S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and RésoSanté Colombie-Britannique.

Health Fair 2015


On September 20, 2015 VIDC partnered with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and had a Community Pop-Up Clinic (CPC) set up at their annual health fair. At the fair, we tested over 100 people for hepatitis C. And even provided FibroScan® options for those who tested positive, or who self-report being previously diagnosed with hepatitis B. We provided services in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English to ensure that information is being delivered efficiently.

RésoSanté Directory Launch

ResoSante Logo

On September 22, 2015 RésoSanté launched their directory of health care professionals that can provide services in French. This year was a momentous event for them as their directory now has 1000 health care professionals in BC that cater to the Francophone community — and of course, VIDC is on the list! (If you don’t know, our President and Medical Director, Dr. Brian Conway, is a Francophone!) At the launch, Dr. Brian Conway was invited to speak on the importance of receiving health care in your own language.

The importance of this directory of French-speaking health care professionals cannot be underestimated. The best health care is provided in the best way possible at the time that it is first requested. One component of this excellence is to provide it in the right language. – Dr. Brian Conway

VIDC’s involvement in these events are the first steps we are taking into pursuing our commitment to providing a community-based holistic approach to treatment. Dr. Conway’s statement rings true regardless of what language or culture is in question — health is one of the few fundamental things that one should have access to, and this access should be facilitated through the right medium.

CBC Radio On The Coast interview with Dr. Brian Conway

CBC Radio Screenie
Click on the photo to listen to the broadcast. Stephen Quinn’s interview with Dr. Conway starts on 1:40:20.

Last Thursday (September 10) our President and Medical Director, Dr. Brian Conway, was on the CBC Radio show On The Coast as the Hepatitis C Expert.

The interview was a response to the recently published study from UBC with shocking results concerning Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents.


UBC Screeniw
UBC News article on the study.

According to the study, DTES residents are dying at a much higher rate compared to the national average, and not due to HIV/AIDS or substance overdose.

“We were somewhat surprised because most people thinking about the Downtown Eastside think about HIV/AIDS or the possibility of overdosing on opioids like heroin,” said Dr. William Honer, professor and head of UBC’s Department of Psychiatry and co-author of the study. “Our system is not doing as well in getting treatments out there for psychosis and hepatitis C in this group, and it’s interesting that those two illnesses are causing risk for early mortality.

— UBC News

Dr. Conway came on the show to speak on these findings — findings that, as VIDC’s President and Medical Director, does not surprise him. These results, as he mentions on the interview, parallels what we see when on our regular visits to the DTES for our Community Pop-Up Clinics (CPCs). The surprise that came with the results confirm one more important reality: there still isn’t enough awareness about hepatitis C.

According to Dr. Conway, the prevalence of HCV in the DTES community is because of a number of things. However, the main factors are: prevalence of injection-drug use, lack of awareness and education about the cure available for HCV, and the social situation of the residents. Not only is a very vulnerable population not aware of the disease and its cure, most of them have difficulty even accessing basic health care. It also does not help that HCV is asymptomatic (does not show symptoms) until about 20-25 years after infection.

We have Community Pop-Up Clinics at various locations in the DTES to provide point-of-care testing for HIV and HCV.

This is one of main driving forces behind VIDC’s CPCs and the health-care model that we have at VIDC. By heading out into the community, we promote awareness and education while making health care a lot more accessible to the community members. Also, at VIDC, we understand that often treatment for a disease that is asymptomatic is the last thing on their minds. Why would they seek treatment when they are worried about where they can spend the weekend and how they will eat for the next couple of weeks? This is why our patient care takes all these into considerations. Often our nurses, research coordinators, clinic staff, and physicians would help patients with their housing application, or contact shelters and soup kitchens for them — all these on top of getting them started on treatment, applying for treatment fundings, and providing general health care.

To find out more about this, here a couple of very useful links:

Community Spotlight: Tyler Cuddahy

This month’s community spotlight is a little bit different, it’s not just an introduction about a dear friend of VIDC, it’s also a call to action. Yes, this month’s community spotlight is for YOU to join and take part in the goodwork that our friend is doing!

2015 marks the 30th year for the AIDS WALK FOR LIFE and the spotlight is directed at Tyler Cuddahy. He’s a dear friend of VIDC and we want to get the word out there about the work he’s involved in! He came to our office informing us of his walk, and our President and Medical Director, Dr. Brian Conway, jumped at the chance to support him financially — and to make sure that we spread the word to get more supporters!

On September 20, 2015, Tyler will be walking 6.75KM along the seawall with a bunch of other people with the aim of walking for:

strength, for health, and for LIFE.


Tyler won’t just be walking, he will be walking in 8-inch heels. Yes, EIGHT! You can do a quick search on Google Images to see what those will look like! (Take it from people who have walked a mile in 2 to 4-inch heels, EIGHT INCHES IS QUITE THE CHALLENGE!!!)

Now, here’s the part where YOU come in.

Tyler won’t just be walking for the sake of looking glamorous in his EIGHT-INCH HEELS; he’s walking to raise funds for the walk. The funds will go to Positive Living BC’s Community Health Fund.

Here are two things YOU can do:

1. Support Tyler’s walk financially! You can take part in his journey (again, in EIGHT-INCH HEELS) by supporting it financially. Click here for his donation page. 


2. You can register to walk too! Don’t worry, you can walk in normal shoes if that’s more your style. Click here if you want to register and do the walk too! You can walk alone or in a team.

Here’s an excerpt from the AIDS WALK FOR LIFE website. Click on the photo to find out more, or visit walk30.ca

It’s because of people like Tyler who participate in initiatives and events like these that help bring awareness that HIV is still a problem that needs to be addressed. And it will be because of people like YOU that he — and others — can keep doing so.

As a medical and research clinic with a strong commitment to a community-based holistic approach in providing health care, we proudly support individuals like Tyler and his efforts!


VIDC July Highlights

VIDC recognizes that to truly provide state-of-the-art care we need to continually inform and re-inform ourselves of what’s current.

This month we had the privilege to do just that! Through different initiatives and community involvement, VIDC was able to reconnect itself with the national and global healthcare community!

July 21: Information Exchange on HIV with Healthcare Professionals from China


On July 21st, HIV Specialists and Healthcare Professionals — including a representative from the Chinese Center for Disease Control — visited our clinic for an information exchange. Dr. Brian Conway, the President and Medical Director of VIDC, gave a presentation on what VIDC is doingIMG_0797 in the HIV field. After the presentation, he opened the floor to dialogue with the Chinese delegates on the similarities and differences of dealing with HIV.


July 22: MAC-FI Meeting with Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Gregory Taylor

From left to right: Ciro Panessa, Dr. David Truong, Dr. Brian Conway, Dr. Gregory Taylor, Dr. Curtis Cooper, _____, Shawn Sharma
From left to right: Ciro Panessa, Dr. David Truong, Dr. Brian Conway, Dr. Gregory Taylor, Dr. Curtis Cooper, Dr. Norbert Bräu, Shawn Sharma

Since Dr. Conway is also the Co-Chair for the  Ministerial Advisory Council on the Federal Initiative to Address HIV/AIDS in Canada (MAC-FI), VIDC had the privilege of hosting  the council’s meeting with Canada’s Chief Public Health Office, Dr. Gregory Taylor.



Aside from the council members, VIDC staff physician Dr. David Truong, our HCV Clinical Research Nurse and Research Manager Shawn Sharma, and our Regulatory Manager Syune Hakobyan were also invited to the meeting.

To welcome the council members and Dr. Gregory Taylor, VIDC did what any Vancouver-based organization would — serve Sushi Rolls. These scrumptious ones were courtesy of Sushiville on Davie St.

July 23: Information Exchange on HIV and HCV Co-Infection with Healthcare Professionals from Australia

On July 23rd, we had the opportunity to have an information exchange with Healthcare Professionals from Australia to discuss HIV and HCV Co-Infection. Dr. Conway gave a presentation on what we know of HIV and HCV Co-Infection in Canada and how we are dealing with it. And then there was an open dialogue on the similarities and differences of the VIDC model with that applied to the situation in Australia.

IMG_0830One of our staff physicians, Dr. Alexandra King, also gave a very brief presentation on the status of HIV and HCV epidemic among Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, and what projects VIDC will be developing to address these issues.

VIDC Signs The Vancouver Consensus

Following the recently concluded IAS 2015 (international Aids Society Conference 2015) at the Vancouver Convention Centre last July 19-22, 2015, the Vancouver Consensus was created.

Here is a short excerpt from the Vancouver Consensus website:

In 1996 the global HIV community gathered in Vancouver to share evidence that triple-combination antiretroviral treatment held the power to stem the tide of deaths from AIDS.  The treatment era had begun. Today, as we gather again in Vancouver, we recognize a new transformative moment in the fight to end AIDS.

We call on leaders the world over to implement HIV science and commit to providing access to immediate HIV treatment to all people living with HIV. We call on donors and governments to use existing resources for maximum impact and to mobilize sufficient resources globally to support ARV access for all, UN 90/90/90 goals for testing, treatment and adherence, and a comprehensive HIV response. We call on clinicians to build models of care that move beyond the clinic to reach all who want and need ARVs. We call on civil society to mobilize in support of immediate rights-based access to treatment for all.

Science has delivered solutions. The question for the world is: When will we put it into practice?

VIDC is proud to be one of the signatories of the consensus!

On July 24, Dr. Brian Conway, President & Medical Director of VIDC, proudly signed the Vancouver Consensus and invites all those who care about access to HIV treatment for all those who would benefit from it to do the same.

In light of data presented at the recent 8th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment & Prevention, it is now evident that all HIV-infected patients will benefit from the initiation of antiretroviral therapy, regardless of their CD4 cell count. It must therefore be our goal to identify and offer treatment to all men and women living with HIV infection.  This is especially true of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised to whom we may offer care.  For them, engagement in the health care system, and the prospect of benefiting from this engagement, may also be a positive tool of social change.

-Dr. Brian Conway

To read more about the Vancouver Consensus, and to view a complete list of the signatories, click here.

Community Pop-Up Clinics (CPCs)

Community Pop-Up Clinic Poster
Our Community Pop-Up Clinic Poster

As part of our commitment to a holistic approach to medicine and to spreading awareness and education, we close our clinic doors (almost) every Friday afternoon. Yes, we stop clinic operations — or at least those that require the doctor to be present – to pursue our commitment!

This is where you’ll find Dr. Brian Conway on Friday afternoons. No, he’s not moonlighting as a podiatrist!

On Friday afternoons, the VIDC team can be found on different locations in the Downtown East Side (DTES) holding our Community Pop-Up Clinic (CPC). We can be found at various drop-in centres, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens in and around the DTES. At these CPCs, we register anyone and everyone interested in getting tested for HIV and HCV. The goal of is to bring awareness and to engage patients who would otherwise not have access to diagnosis, treatment, and/or care.

The clinic is set up such that from the very beginning, engagement is the main goal. Our team of research assistants and coordinators are on the front line doing registration. We talk to anyone and everyone who shows interest and explain to them how the tests work, help them with registration, and direct them as necessary. Following that, our HCV Nurse, Yashna Bhutani, takes over. She sets up the clinic part of our CPCs. She will have her own room – or corner, whichever is available – and does the testing. We use OraQuick® Tests for HIV and HCV. Basically? Yashna just needs to swab the insides of their cheeks – no blood involved – and the results come out in about 10-15 minutes. The test checks for the presence of antibodies, your body’s response to infection. If the test comes out positive — which indicates that your body has fought or is fighting either HIV or HCV — then we recommend more thorough blood tests. (To find out more about how OraQuick® works, click here.)

Yasha set up and ready for testing!

The final part of the process involves the revelation of the results. If anyone tests positive for either HIV or HCV, Dr. Brian Conway is right there to provide immediate specialist consultation. Additionally, our HCV Research Nurses, Shawn and Yashna, would also have counseling sessions with these patients. Often these patients are unaware of their infection — let alone the treatment options and care available for people dealing with Hepatitis C. This is why it is very important to have Dr. Conway, Shawn, and Yashna available at the site to provide counseling, support, and consultation for these people. Sometimes hearing the news — both the good and the bad — from someone well equipped to help is all they need to have hope and feel better.

Nurse Shawn Sharma counseling a patient who tested positive for HCV about treatment options and how HCV is not a death sentence anymore.
Nurse Shawn Sharma counseling a patient who tested positive for HCV about treatment options and how HCV is not a death sentence anymore.

The idea with the rapid tests is for individuals who do not need extensive (and sometimes expensive) blood work done to not have to do it. If the test for antibodies is negative, why else would you need further confirmatory tests? The hassle in getting a doctor to sign off on a lab requisition form, the trouble of going to the lab to get your blood drawn, the long wait at laboratories, and the agony of waiting for your results — these are the things we try to eliminate through our Community Pop-Up Clinics. Basically, our CPCs are geared towards lessening inconvenience, hassle, stress, and fear involved with getting tested – the goal is to make it as simple and accessible as possible to get as many people tested and engaged as possible.

Our CPCs are sometimes known as Testing Fairs to the community (and even among the staff, actually).

The main goal of our CPCs: There is a problem, there is cure available, let’s get the word out and stop the spread of these diseases.

Our CPC was also recently featured on the 24hrs Vancouver Newspaper, click here to see the article.

11th International Workshop on Co-Infection HIV and Hepatitis: Best Poster Presentation 2015

Congratulations are once again in order for Dr. Brian Conway and the VIDC Team!

Dr. Brian Conway MD FRCPC with a huge smile as he accepts the award for Best Poster Presentation 2015. Congratulations, Dr. Cownay!

At the 11th International Workshop on Co-Infection HIV and Hepatits in London last June 11-12, Dr. Conway was presented with the Best Poster Presentation 2015 Award. He presented a total of three (3) posters for the three abstracts submitted for the conference. The winning poster was for Correlates of successful HCV treatment in HIV co-infected vulnerable populations. 

abstract book cover
Reviews in Antiviral Therapy Infectious Diseases 6 2015 Abstract Book

Two of the abstracts — including the one with the winning poster — relates to VIDC’s work with the Downtown East Side community (Correlates of successful HCV treatment in HIV co-infected vulnerable populations and Cascade of Care of HIV/HCV Co-infected Patients on the Downtown East Side of Vancouver). The third is focused on treatments and medications concerning co-infected patients (Changes in antiretroviral therapy while on HCV treatment in HIV/HCV co-infected patients). These abstracts can be accessed through clicking on this link or the photo of the cover of the abstract book.

As a research and medical clinic, VIDC boasts of providing holistic care both directly and indirectly to the community. Through our community engagement initiatives such as VIDC Connect, HCV Treatment Support Group, DTES Pop-Up Clinics, etc., and the high standard of care we provide, VIDC is able to carry out its commitment to holistic care directly. Consequently, through the research work we do, we are impacting the community by creating spaces for dialogue within the academe and policy-making spheres informed by our direct involvement with the community.

The award-winning poster on display in one of our waiting areas.



Drug Interactions Cheat Sheets

Last Friday, June 19, we had one of our Lunch Talks at the clinic. Our very own Dr. Brian Conway gave a mini-lecture over lunch — sponsored by Merck — on drug interactions.

Bottom line: Be aware of what you’re taking!

The talk was very informative and quite extensive for the amount of time we had, and typing up all that information would be too much for a blog post! Fortunately, Dr. Conway gave us a shortcut to all that knowledge: The University of Liverpool’s Drug Interaction websites!

There’s the http://www.hiv-druginteractions.org/ for HIV drugs and http://www.hep-druginteractions.org/ for HCV (Hep C) drugs.

Basically, the site allows for public access of PDF charts detailing which drugs have interactions with each other and whether or not these interactions are negligible or deadly.  It has a very easy-to-understand scheme: interactions labeled in GREEN are drugs you can take together, YELLOW are drugs you want to take with caution, and RED labeled drug interactions are just NO. And for people interested in why the labels are colored as such, the site also has an area detailing the information behind the specific labels.

The sites are very informative and user-friendly. And also quite comprehensive — from Ibuprofen to Cocaine to other antivirals!

Here are some screenshots:

HIV Drug Interaction Screenshot
List of printable charts you can access through hiv-druginteractions.org
Recreational Drugs and HIV Meds
An example of what a printable chart looks like. Labels are colored for easy scanning, and symbols are used to give more information about the specific interactions.
HCV Chart Example
An example from hep-druginteractions.org. Different symbols, same color scheme — green, yellow, and red.

They also produced (free) apps!

These are available in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Click on the photos below for the Apple App Store. Or search for HEP iChart and HIV iChart for the HCV and the HIV drug interactions app respectively.

Inside the HCV App

You start by selecting the HIV or HCV drug you’re interested in and then select the other drug (cough medicine, pain medication, recreational drugs, alcohol, etc.) you want to check and voila!

Just like the charts, if it's safe, the label is green.
Just like the charts, if it’s safe, the label is green.
Yellow if co-administration can be done with caution.
Yellow if co-administration should be done with caution.
Red if the interactions have adverse effects on the person.
Red if the interactions have adverse effects and co-administration should not be done.

This is an amazing resource for individuals living with HIV or HCV (Hep C), the health care professionals working with them, and family and community members that want to look out for them. A convenient cheat sheet in the palm of your hand — or on your wall if you choose to print the charts out.

HOWEVER, these apps and charts do not replace your doctor’s orders. Always run things by your doctor if you’re unsure of the medications you’re taking.