Early HIV Treatment Can Prevent Transmission to Uninfected Partners

cohenAntiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV infection provides consistent protection against the sexual transmission of the HIV virus from infected men and women to their HIV-uninfected sexual partners.

These findings were announced on Monday, July 20 by researcher Dr. Myron Cohen at the 8th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment & Prevention in Vancouver, Canada. Cohen, UNC’s chief of the Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases, has headed the HPTO 052 global research project for a decade and studied more than 1,700 couples.

HPTN 052 began in 2005 and enrolled 1,763 HIV sero-discordant couples – where one person is HIV-infected and the other is not – at 13 sites in nine countries. The majority of the couples were heterosexual (97 percent). HIV-infected partners were assigned to start ART at the beginning of the study, called the “early” arm, or later in the study, called the “delayed” arm. Those on the delayed arm started ART when their bodies’ immune systems were declining. HPTN 052 was funded primarily by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The IAS 2015 Conference

The IAS 2015 Conference

“These findings demonstrate that antiretroviral therapy, when taken until viral suppression is achieved and sustained, is a highly effective, durable intervention for HIV prevention,” said Myron Cohen, Principal Investigator for HPTN 052. “The HPTN 052 trial was designed to address two questions: whether providing antiretroviral therapy to an HIV-infected person would prevent HIV transmission to a sexual partner, and whether earlier antiretroviral therapy offered long-lasting health benefits, and the answer to both is a
resounding yes.”

The significance of the research findings cannot be understated – when used consistently, medication can break the chain of HIV transmission and has the potential to eradicate the virus when all infected people die natural deaths. For the foreseeable future, however, such a medical strategy will disproportionately benefit industrialized countries whose residents have wider, though far from universal, access to modern health care.

Read the full article from the News and Observer Newspaper here.

Click here to see all the UNC IAS coverage.

CUREiculum Webinar Series: Early ART

The CUREiculum is a suite of tools that provides simple, accessible information on HIV cure research. As part of the effort to increase research literacy around cure, the CUREiculum team, a collaboration of community educators, researchers and advocacy organizations, will be presenting a webinar series that focus on issue-specific topics crucial to understanding the research landscape.

Early ART
Thursday, April 2nd at 11 am ET

Dr. Jintanat Ananworanich, Associate Director for Therapeutics Research at the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) of the Walter Reed Army Institute for Research (WRAIR), will present the scientific mechanisms of early treatment and explain how it relates to HIV cure research. Administering early antiretroviral therapy can have a significant impact on limiting the reservoir- the cells that contain non-replicating HIV- in an HIV-positive individual. Starting ART very early after HIV infection has been linked to very low viral loads and even to apparent “remission” (periods of no detectable viral load)

Register here for webinar details!

For more information, please contact Jessica or Karine.