11/30/2012 07:54 EST | Updated 01/30/2013 05:12 EST

HIV/AIDS detection program expanded in B.C.

The B.C. government is committing nearly $20 million in annual funding to expand HIV detection and treatment across the province.

Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid says the expanded approach will pay dividends for everyone.

“We would identify more people who, unbeknownst to them have HIV, and have them have the benefit of the treatment,” MacDiarmid said. “Also, we will continue to see fewer and fewer cases of HIV. British Columbia is the only province in Canada that is actually seeing a decline in new cases.”

New HIV infections have decreased from about 900 new cases each year in the mid-1990s to 289 new cases in 2011.

The "seek and treatment" program will be delivered through local health authorities.

About 13,000 British Columbians are living with HIV/Aids, and as many as 3,500 other people are unaware they too, are living with HIV.