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).
“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
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.
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