More people on treatment = less new HIV infections
Knowing your HIV status is an important part of routine health maintenance and it is crucial to get onto a healthy treatment regimen as early as possible if you’re living with HIV. Thanks to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment now people living with HIV have normal life expectancy with a good quality of life. But addition to improving health and prolonging lives of individuals; ARV drugs also have broader HIV prevention benefits.
Treatment as Prevention (TasP) is a strategy whereby antiretroviral drugs are given to provide additional benefits by decreasing the chance of transmitting the HIV. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) decreases HIV viral load (amount of the virus) in a HIV positive person’s bodily fluids, allowing immune system to restore and thereby reducing the possibility of AIDS-related illnesses, including TB. An HIV-positive person’s viral load is the biggest risk factor in the transmission of the virus. There are firm scientific evidence that individuals, who receive ART and who have an undetectable viral load (the amount of HIV in the blood is too low to be seen on a viral load test), are much less likely to transmit HIV.
In 2011 the results of a large randomized controlled trial called HPTN 052 showed that early ART reduced the risk of HIV transmission to an uninfected partner – by at least 96%. The results of the PARTNERS study, published in 2014, confirmed the efficiency of treatment as prevention. TasP along with other key strategies is an important element of combination HIV prevention and a major part of the solution to ending the HIV epidemic.
Due to the growing evidence of the efficiency WHO had adopted the strategy and in 2013 released consolidated guidelines on the use of ARV drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection and supplements. Also, implementation of these clinical recommendations is supported by new recommendations to bring HIV care and treatment closer to the patient and into the community.
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