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Treatment for Prevention?

Treatment for Prevention?


Because antiretroviral treatment dramatically lowers viral loads in the body and correspondingly slashes the changes of transmitting the virus to others, all HIV-positive people worldwide -- regardless of CD4-cell count -- should begin therapy immediately, urges AIDS expert William Haseltine in the journal The Atlantic. The first step to defeating AIDS worldwide is to ramp up testing campaigns to identify as many people who are infected as possible, Haseltine writes. Step two is starting all those who test positive on antiretroviral medications so that they become less likely to pass HIV to others through sexual activity, breast-feeding, and childbirth. This reduction in transmission risks will ultimately result in lower HIV prevalence rates around the world, he concludes, noting that three other prominent AIDS researchers -- Robert Gallo, Max Essex, and Robert Redfield -- agree with his assessment. 'I recommend that the World Health Organization, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria begin studies to assess the effectiveness of universal testing and early treatment for the prevention of HIV transmission,' Haseltine writes. 'I believe that our best hope now lies in universal detection and universal treatment of all those currently HIV-positive. We cannot afford to wait.'

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