The Positive Living Fraser Valley Society hosts Dr. Julio Montaner next month to discuss growing concerns about HIV prevention and treatment in the region. The past-president of the International AIDS Society and current director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS will speak about Abbotsford’s harm-reduction zoning bylaw which is currently being reconsidered by city council. He will be joined on stage by Irene Day, the centre’s director of operations. Montaner played a key role in pioneering the Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART), the drug cocktail that has been adopted in Canada and around the world as the gold standard treatment for HIV/AIDS. The number of newly-positive HIV cases in the Fraser East area (which is part of the Fraser Health Authority and includes Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Hope and Agassiz) from 2005-2008 fluctuated between 6.5 and 2.5 cases per 100,000, but these numbers only reflect those who have been tested. Statistics also show the regional percentage of new HIV cases that are attributable to heterosexual transmission has risen from 13.4 per cent in 1996 to 42.1 per cent in 2007. Transmission percentages for homosexual men is also on the rise, almost tripling since 1999, to 31.6 per cent in 2007. Positive Living Fraser Valley Society launches a new, expanded website on March 1 at www.plfv.org.The forum on March 16 runs from 1:30-4 p.m. at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium, 32315 South Fraser Way. Admission is free and no reservation is required.