Achieving universal access to treatment would make the most significant contribution to a drop in AIDS deaths and in HIV transmission rates worldwide. Due largely to programs such as PEPFAR (the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), 2 million people in the developing world are receiving treatment - a tremendous feat. However, this is only a small fraction of those who need it and who will die without it. A billion dollars a year in vaccine research funding will do nothing to prevent that.
Bolstering the case for increasing access to treatment: a recent study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention indicates that AIDS drugs render an HIV-positive person significantly less infectious. The study of married couples, conducted over three years in Uganda, assessed the long-term of effect of antiretroviral treatment on HIV transmission. Results demonstrate up to a 90 percent reduction in the likelihood that an HIV-positive husband will infect his or her partner if the infected person is receiving prevention counseling services and antiretroviral drug treatment.
Inhibiting the virus' ability to replicate, the antiretroviral drugs lower what is known as the viral load in a person's system, often to such a degree that the virus, while not eliminated, becomes undetectable. Scale-up of treatment worldwide must be our highest priority.
On Tuesday, Dr. Fauci will convene a summit of top leaders in Bethesda to "rethink strategy and perhaps plot new directions for the flow of federal tax dollars" for HIV vaccine research. Their course should be clear.
Suspending U.S. funding for an HIV vaccine and investing in strategies
that save lives and stop new infections is the wisest and most effective
use of l
|SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation|
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