NPR – Morning Edition – 2/22/13 – Treating HIV Patients Protects Whole Community

Over the past few decades, one of the most perplexing questions in global health is how to stop HIV.

There have been campaigns involving condoms, abstinence and even the circumcision of all men younger than 46. But one relatively new strategy, called treatment as prevention, is causing quite a buzz.

The idea is to give all HIV-positive people antiretroviral drugs to drive down the levels of virus in their systems so they no longer pose a threat of transmitting the disease.

Sounds good in theory, but how well does it play out in the slums of Nairobi or the townships of Johannesburg?

Two studies published in the journal Science find that, in places where HIV drugs are widely available, the risk for new HIV infections drops dramatically and overall life expectancy increases by more than a decade.

In other words, treatment as prevention isn’t just a buzz word floating around health conferences but a promising strategy for stopping HIV — even in a part of the world with one of the most severe AIDS epidemics.

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