AIDS 2010




HAART reduces HIV spread
among injection drug users

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), currently known for its therapeutic benefits against HIV, also reduced the spread of the virus among people with a history of injection drug use, according to a population-based study funded by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The study was published 18 July 2010 in The Lancet.

HAART, a combination of drugs that target HIV at different points in its lifecycle, stops the HIV virus from replicating. Though not a cure, HAART suppresses the virus, stopping disease progression and prolonging survival in people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. In this study, Canadian researchers found that increasing levels of HAART coverage in British Columbia were strongly associated with decreases in viral load in the population and new HIV diagnoses.

Previous research had suggested that increased HAART coverage reduced the spread of HIV in the general population. The findings in this study applied not only to the general population, but also to the subset of individuals with a history of injection drug use.

Researchers analysed information from two databases that provide information on HAART use, looking at viral load, new HIV diagnoses, and HIV and viral load testing information in British Columbia, where residents are provided free access to HIV care. During three distinct time periods, researchers saw that the number of individuals actively receiving HAART had a strong impact on viral load and new diagnoses in the community. As HAART coverage increased sharply, new HIV diagnoses decreased sharply. As HAART coverage stabilised, so did viral load and new HIV diagnoses.

“Our results clearly demonstrate that there is a connection between treatment and prevention not just among the general population, but among injection drug users as well,” said Dr Julio Montaner, the study’s lead author and director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. “Expanding HAART coverage within current medical guidelines will prevent disease progression and decrease new HIV infections.” 


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ate of upload: 25th Sep 2010

                                  
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