How HIV Treatment and Prevention Programs Succeed Together

How HIV Treatment and Prevention Programs Succeed Together

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When public health officials debate the most effective HIV programs, generally two broad camps emerge: prevention and treatment. Test-and-treat programs seem to offer a catchall benefit to society. Researchers have clearly established that the benefit of antiretroviral treatment go beyond the individual -- patients on treatment with low viral count are unlikely to transmit the virus, or what's known as treatment as prevention.

When public health officials debate the most effective HIV programs, generally two broad camps emerge: prevention and treatment. Test-and-treat programs seem to offer a catchall benefit to society. Researchers have clearly established that the benefit of antiretroviral treatment go beyond the individual -- patients on treatment with low viral count are unlikely to transmit the virus, or what's known as treatment as prevention.

For this reason, it can be tempting to focus public health efforts on test-and-treat programs, and neglect traditional prevention such as condoms, male circumcision and behavior change. While test-and-treat programs should be encouraged, they should compliment, not replace, traditional prevention programs.

During a presentation at IAS 2015, Francois Venter, M.D., from the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Research Institute, described implementations and challenges of various biomedical interventions, and detailed his own work in South Africa.