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Increased HAART coverage associated with 50 percent drop
Date:2/18/2010

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, February 18, 2010 A comprehensive population-based study, conducted by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) and presented at the 17th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in San Francisco, shows that expanded highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) coverage was associated with a 50% decrease in new yearly HIV infections among injection drug users.

These results were temporally related to an outreach effort specifically targeting injection drug users. In addition, increased HAART coverage was associated with a decrease in the community HIV plasma viral load in British Columbia.

Providing HAART treatment to HIV-infected drug users has been strongly debated by researchers and clinicians. Some argue that social instability related to illicit drug use can compromise HAART-related benefits. As a result, on a global scale, drug users have been less likely to be prescribed HAART and are consequently more likely to have worse health outcomes, including higher rates of HIV disease progression to AIDS and death.

But the BC-CfE's study results point to the effectiveness of HAART in providing life-supporting benefits to all HIV-infected people, including those in marginalized communities such as injection drug users. A previous BC-CfE study showed that five-year mortality is similar between HIV-infected injection drug users and non-users infected with HIV and treated with HAART. Today's results show that HAART's secondary benefit of HIV prevention will also be realized among drug users.

"Our results clearly reveal the need to develop specific initiatives to increase HAART coverage among injection drug users," said Dr. Julio Montaner, Director, BC-CfE, and an early proponent of expanding HAART coverage as a way to decrease progression to AIDS and death in HIV-infected individuals and to prevent HIV infections among individuals at risk.

Based on HAART's pr
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Contact: Brian Lin
brian.lin@ubc.ca
604-822-2234
University of British Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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