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Medical News

Medical Breakthroughs Set to Buoy AIDS Council of War

July 15, 2011

Recent studies finding that daily oral HIV treatment can help prevent sexual acquisition and transmission of the virus have created a buzz of excitement ahead of the 6th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention. Thousands are expected at the four-day medical conference, which opens Sunday in Rome.

Among advances to be spotlighted:

  • In a recent trial in Africa, the risk of HIV transmission fell 96 percent among serodiscordant heterosexual couples when infected partners received antiretroviral therapy before they got sick.
  • Among serodiscordant heterosexual couples in Kenya and Uganda, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) reduced the risk of acquiring HIV by 62 percent to 73 percent, depending on the regimen, when compared with placebo.
  • In a CDC trial among uninfected heterosexual couples in Botswana, the risk of acquiring HIV infection was cut by about 63 percent among those taking PrEP, compared with those taking placebo.

"This is a major scientific breakthrough which confirms the essential role that antiretroviral medicine has to play in the AIDS response," said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS. "These studies could help us to reach the tipping point in the HIV epidemic."

"If you start early treatment for people infected with HIV, you get a 96.3 percent decrease in transmission," said Julio Montaner, director of the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. "Nothing else has been shown that is as efficacious. And the cost-benefit is triple, because it decreases morbidity, it decreases mortality, and it decreases transmissions. I call it a hat-trick -- you can't have it any better."

"We are in the middle of huge scientific breakthroughs that could help change the course of the epidemic in coming years," said IAS chief Bertrand Audoin. "One of the challenges we have to meet is to align the scientific evidence with policies implemented on the ground."

For more on the conference, visit

Back to other news for July 2011

Adapted from:
Agence France Presse

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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