Research shows early ART in HIV patients reduces heterosexual transmission

20 July 2016 (Last Updated July 20th, 2016 18:30)

A study led by the US University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has revealed that anti-HIV medications can reduce the viral load of patients, along with providing long-term protection against heterosexual transmission.

A study led by the US University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has revealed that anti-HIV medications can reduce the viral load of patients, along with providing long-term protection against heterosexual transmission.

Results from the new HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 study showed a 93% reduction of HIV transmission when a person affected with HIV is treated with anti-retroviral therapy (ART) at a higher CD4 cell count.

University of North Carolina Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases director and HPTN 052 principal investigator Dr Myron S. Cohen said: “The HPTN 052 study confirms the urgent need to treat people with HIV infection as soon as infection is diagnosed to protect their health and for public health.

"In 2011, interim study results revealed a 96% reduction in HIV transmission among people receiving early ART, as compared to delayed ART."

“This study represents more than a decade of effort by a worldwide team of investigators, and the tremendous courage and generosity of more than 3,500 clinical trial participants.”

In 2011, interim study results revealed a 96% reduction in HIV transmission among people receiving early ART, as compared to delayed ART.

As part of the 2011 study, all HIV-infected patients were offered ART and the research was continued until May 2015 in order to better understand the magnitude and durability of ‘treatment as prevention’.

The new HPTN 052 study results have helped adopt a universal ‘treatment as prevention’ strategy to fight against the HIV epidemic, in which ART is offered to all HIV-infected patients irrespective of their CD4 cell count.


Image: Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 budding (in green) from cultured lymphocyte. Photo: courtesy of CDC / C. Goldsmith.