Early HIV Therapy Prevents Transmission

Posted by BBC News on May 13th, 2011 and filed under Health Tips, Latest News Update. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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Managing HIV infections right away, prior to the point when people are too unwell, could reduce their likelihood of spreading the AIDS virus to sexual partners-averting millions of infections. So suggests a major worldwide review supported simply by the National Institutes of Health which could influence doctors and healthcare policymakers to help offer medicine sooner. In a trial of 1,763 couples by using one infected companion, those who began oral antiretroviral drugs instantly after diagnosis were 96 percent less probable to transmit the AIDS-causing virus to their uninfected partner than individuals who began therapy later, in respect to preliminary findings declared Thursday. The study began in 2005 and seemed to be expected to continue through 2015, but the end results were so clear that investigators quit four years in advance of timetable. Since HIV drugs are expensive-$12,000 or more a year-and can cause side effects like nausea and liver damage, patients usually don’t start treatment until they are far sicker. “This breakthrough is a serious game changer and will drive the prevention revolution ahead,” Michel Sidibé, the executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, said in a press statement. “It makes HIV therapy a new priority prevention option.”

As if waging war in opposition to an incurable virus that plagues 33 million persons globally weren’t sufficient, researchers, physicians, and public health officials proceed to battle yet another evasive difficulty: misinformation. “It really does obstruct the fight,” says Rowena Johnston, vice president and director of investigation at amfAR, a nonprofit that funds HIV/AIDS research. Broaching topics like sex and drug use­­-the main vehicles for transmission-is “taboo” for quite a few, she says, “consequently a concern certainly is acquiring people to speak honestly and honestly about what HIV is and isn’t.” And also part of a genuine conversation, she says, should be devoted to debunking the particular myths quite a few have come to believe, including the following:

1. If I had HIV, I would certainly recognize. Not the case, says Kimberly Hagen, assistant director for the Center for AIDS Research at Emory University in Atlanta. With regards to 1.1 million people in the United States who are HIV-positive, and as many as 1 in 5 don’t realize it, quotes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of them feel absolutely healthy. In addition to those who have signs or symptoms may mistake them with run-of-the-mill flu. Refusal also plays a role, say consultants. “There is a universal tendency with HIV,” says Hagen, to try to think, “‘This is something that will affect someone else and not me.’ And so anyone believes that they can’t get it doing the things that they do-you can only get it doing the things that other people do. That may be the biggest myth.”

2. I don’t have to worry because I’m not in a high-risk community. While prostitutes, men who have sex with males, and needle sharers are considered at high risk by the CDC, the virus is definitely an equal-opportunity bug. “Many people don’t perceive themselves to be at risk and so don’t understand why testing is important,” says Joel Gallant, associate director of the AIDS Service at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. One example: Heterosexuals account for a third of fresh HIV transmissions each year, the CDC reports, and a female might not learn her male partner has had sex with men in the past or has shared needles with an infected user. Monogamous relationships don’t ensure complete safety unless you’ve both recently been tested and are HIV-negative. In unusual instances, women who have sex with women can pass on the virus. As well as the number of people 50 and older living with HIV/AIDS is on the rise, partly due to newly identified infections, says Paul Weidle, acting chief of the epidemiology branch in the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. There are no hallmark characteristics to watch for, no physical feature that will “set off an alarm in your head saying ‘this person has HIV,’” says Hagen.

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