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More Evidence That Early Treatment Can Stop HIV's Spread to Partners
Date:7/18/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers on Monday released yet more evidence that early treatment of HIV in an infected heterosexual can protect his or her partner from becoming infected.

The study, conducted among 1,763 couples in Africa, Asia, South America and the United States, found that HIV-infected people in stable sexual relationships cut their odds of transmitting the virus to their partner by 96 percent if they got antiretroviral medications soon after diagnosis.

The findings were published online ahead of print in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with their presentation on Monday at the International AIDS Society Conference in Rome.

To the question of whether early treatment helps shield sexual partners from infection, the answer from this study "was a resounding yes," Dr. Scott Hammer, professor of medicine at Columbia University, New York City, wrote in an accompanying journal editorial.

The new findings come on the heels of similar research released July 13 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In two separate studies, scientists found that giving antiretroviral drugs to heterosexuals at high risk of HIV infection significantly reduced their chances of developing the AIDS-causing virus.

Speaking to HealthDay at the time, Dr. Jared Baeten, co-chair of one study and a University of Washington associate professor of global health, called that outcome "an extremely exciting finding for the field of HIV prevention."

In the latest study in NEJM, a team led by Dr. Myron S. Cohen at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tracked outcomes for couples where one partner was HIV-positive and the other was not (evenly split between males and females carrying the virus). The infected partner was randomized to receive a combination of a variety of standard HIV-suppressing medicat
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