The world’s fight against HIV/AIDS has finally made a ground-breaking discovery that could go a long way in reducing the continuous HIV transmission through sexual intercourse.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) this week released a statement in which they hailed the HIV Preventions Trial Network (HPTN 052) results in which it was revealed that antiretroviral drugs are 96 percent effective in preventing HIV transmission, especially in cases where one partner is HIV positive and the other is negative.
“This breakthrough is a serious game changer and will drive the prevention revolution forward. It makes HIV treatment a new priority prevention option,” said Michel Sidib├®, Executive Director of UNAIDS in a joint statement from the organisation and WHO.
Sidibe said that they now need to make sure that couples have the option to choose Treatment for Prevention and have access to it.”
The HPTN trial involved 1700 couples from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the United States of America, one of each couple being HIV positive while the other was negative.
The trial also accepted people who had a CD4 count of between 350 and 550.
According to UNAIDS, the project had to be stopped 3-4 years ahead of schedule because the reduction of sexual transmission of HIV was quite significant.
“This is a crucial development because we know that sexual transmission accounts for about 80 percent of all new infections. The findings from this study will further strengthen and support the new guidance that WHO is releasing in July to help people living with HIV protect their partners,” said said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, in the joint statement.
The two hope that the availability of Treatment for Prevention will not only empower people to get tested for HIV, but also to disclose their HIV status, discuss HIV prevention options with their partners and access essential HIV services.
The results are also expected to help reduce stigmatization and discrimination of people living with HIV.
WHO estimations show that only half of the 33 million people living with HIV worldwide know their status.
UNAIDS has recommended that the treatment for Prevention method be adapted as one of the measures in the HIV prevention package.
However, the two have warned that no single method is fully protective against HIV. The Treatment for prevention needs to be used in combination with other HIV prevention options.
It’s revealed that the new WHO guidelines that are coming out in July will help countries to make the Treatment for prevention a reality for people who choose to use this new HIV prevention option.
“To increase access to the Treatment for Prevention option, the Treatment 2.0 initiative must be urgently implemented to innovate, simplify, reduce costs and mobilize communities to scale up HIV testing and counselling and treatment,” the UNAIDS statement said.