Science Examines HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment Strategies Discussed at Last Week's Conference in Mexico City
August 15, 2008
The journal Science in its Aug. 15 issue examined the "intense scrutiny" that HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment received during last week's XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. Mike Cohen of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill at the conference said the two efforts "keep going to the altar," but "[t]hey never get married. They have to get married today."
Further contention surrounding treatment and prevention at the conference, according to Science, included the degree to which ongoing treatment can prevent transmission on a population-wide scale. Although a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that treatment led to a decrease in HIV transmission in the province of British Columbia, epidemiologist Geoffrey Garnett of Imperial College London said that antiretrovirals are unlikely to have a large effect on transmission on a global scale. About 80% of HIV-positive people are not aware of their status, and of those who do, most are not eligible for no-cost treatment until their immune systems have been damaged. According to Science, this means that most HIV transmissions "occur long before people are taking the drugs."
Garnett and others encouraged HIV/AIDS researchers to embrace the notion of "combination prevention." According to Garnett, by combining treatment with preventive measures, such as condom use and male circumcision, it might be possible to create "a natural synergy." He added, "Rather than arguing for a single magic bullet, we really need to be trying to focus everything that we can on what works to realize these natural synergies" (Cohen, Science, 8/15).
Kaisernetwork.org was the official webcaster of the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. Kaisernetwork.org interviews with Science correspondent Jon Cohen during the week of the AIDS conference are available online.
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.