Early HIV Drug Therapy Protects Sex Partners From Virus


Study: Anti-HIV drugs prevent transmission.

United Nations agencies fighting HIV/AIDS today lauded the results of an international study that shows that if an HIV-positive person immediately follows an appropriate treatment of anti-retroviral drugs, the risk of transmitting the virus to an uninfected sexual partner is nearly entirely eliminated.

The trial, conducted by the HIV Prevention Trials Network, tracked more than 1,700 couples across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the United States and found that the risk of infection fell by 96 per cent.

The reduction in risk was so large that the trial was stopped some three to four years ahead of schedule.

Game Changer

“This breakthrough is a serious game changer,” said Michel Sidibé, the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), who added that “now we need to make sure that couples have the option to choose treatment for prevention and have access to it.”

Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), described the results of the study as “a crucial development, because we know that sexual transmission accounts for about 80 per cent of all new infections.” The two agencies stressed the need for couples to make evidence-based decisions on which combination of HIV prevention options is best for them, and that anti-retroviral therapy serve as one of the options made available.

“No single method is fully protective against HIV,” the agencies said in a joint press statement. “Treatment for prevention [anti-retroviral therapy] needs to be used in combination with other HIV prevention options. These include correct and consistent use of male and female condoms, waiting longer before having sex for the first time, having fewer partners, male circumcision, and avoiding penetrative sex.”

Please consult your doctor if you want more information on sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS. If you live in the North Miami Beach area, Women & Teens Healthcare provides screening and counselling for STDs in a confidential environment. You can even book your appointment securely online.

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Written by an OB/GYN with over 25 years experience in adolescent health care in Canada, West Indies, Europe and the US.