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Commentary & Opinion
Option for Couples to Test Together, Access ART for Prevention Can Reduce HIV Risk

May 8, 2012

"If we don't leverage the power of innovation to transform how health services are provided and utilized, efforts to stop new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths can reach a stalemate," UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in this opinion piece in the Huffington Post's "Healthy Living" blog. "Many of the advances in HIV prevention and treatment have come through innovation and applying knowledge in new ways," he continues, highlighting the protective benefits of male circumcision and the introduction of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for people living with HIV.

"Now the same knowledge has been proven to stop new HIV infections among sexually active people," he writes, noting, "Couples in discordant relationships -- where one partner has HIV and the other does not -- can dramatically reduce the risk of HIV transmission if the partner with HIV takes antiretroviral treatment." He writes, "Unfortunately, about half of people living with HIV still do not know they have the virus. It starts with couples knowing their HIV status -- together." He concludes, "The power of couples to make a difference is immense. By providing couples with the option to test together and access antiretroviral treatment for prevention purposes, UNAIDS estimates that about an additional four million couples can be given this life-saving option," "tak[ing] us one more step forward in our quest for zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths" (5/7).

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