Men and women infected with HIV reduced the risk of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners by taking oral antiretroviral medicines when their immune systems were relatively healthy, according to findings from a large-scale clinical study sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
The clinical trial, known as HPTN 052, was slated to end in 2015 but the findings are being released early as the result of a scheduled interim review of the study data by an independent data and safety monitoring board (DSMB). The DSMB concluded that it was clear that use of antiretrovirals by HIV-infected individuals with relatively healthier immune systems substantially reduced transmission to their partners. The results are the first from a major randomized clinical trial to indicate that treating an HIV-infected individual can reduce the risk of sexual transmission of HIV to an uninfected partner.
"Previous data about the potential value of antiretrovirals in making HIV-infected individuals less infectious to their sexual partners came largely from observational and epidemiological studies," said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "This new finding convincingly demonstrates that treating the infected individualand doing so sooner rather than latercan have a major impact on reducing HIV transmission."
Led by study chair Myron Cohen, M.D., director of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, HPTN 052 began in April 2005 and enrolled 1,763 couples, all at least 18 years of age. The vast majority of the couples (97 percent) were heterosexual, which precludes any definitive conclusions about effectiveness in men who have sex with men. The study was conducted at 13 sites in Botswana, Brazil, India, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand, the United States and Zimbabwe. The U.S. site collected only limite
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NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases