Treating HIV also cuts infection rates, study finds

PROVOCATIVE new research shows that treating people with the AIDS virus can provide a powerful bonus: it cuts the risk that they will infect others.

New infections plummeted in parts of Canada as more people went on AIDS drugs, which lowered the amount of virus they had and the chances they would spread it, the study found.

For every 100 people with HIV who started taking AIDS drugs, new infections dropped by 3% in British Columbia, where the study was done. The rate of new infections there has been cut in half since 1996, matching a rise in treatment.

“The more people you put on therapy, the less transmission there is,” said Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The US government helped pay for the study. Results were published online yesterday by the British medical journal Lancet and were being presented at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna.

Finding ways to prevent HIV infection is critical as there is no vaccine or cure.

Treating pregnant women with HIV lowers the amount of virus they have and the risk they’ll pass it on to their babies.

The new study is the first clear evidence that the same principle holds true on a population level, in everyday community settings.

Dr Julio Montaner, of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, led the study.


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