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."
According to Cohen and other delegates at the conference, although there have been considerable gains in HIV/AIDS treatment, such efforts have overshadowed prevention needs. Science reports that three million people in low- and middle-income countries now have access to antiretroviral drugs but that an estimated five people contract HIV for every two provided with treatment. UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said, "There has not been that push for prevention as there's been for treatment," adding, "If we thought the first phase was hard, we have to prepare for even tougher times."
Science reports that a significant issue surrounding treatment and prevention is that the success of antiretrovirals in lowering viral loads and making HIV-positive people less infectious has led to the "increasing awareness that treatment is prevention, both for individuals and populations." However, "the degree to which the drugs can prevent infections has proved highly contentious," according to Science. For example, a study by the Swiss Federal Commission for HIV/AIDS concluded that couples with one HIV-positive partner do not need to use condoms to prevent HIV transmission provided that the HIV-positive person is taking antiretrovirals, has had an undetectable viral load for six months and has no other sexually transmitted infections. Kevin de Cock, head of the World Health Organization's HIV/AIDS Department, said, "It just doesn't seem like a cautious public health recommendation," adding, "I don't think anyone's shown the threshold below which people cannot transmit" HIV.
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2008 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
|Please note: Knowledge about HIV changes rapidly. Note the date of this summary's publication, and before treating patients or employing any therapies described in these materials, verify all information independently. If you are a patient, please consult a doctor or other medical professional before acting on any of the information presented in this summary. For a complete listing of our most recent conference coverage, click here.|