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HIV/AIDS Cure: End of Epidemic Nears? Virus Transmission Prevented Through ART Drugs, Study Confirms

This human T cell (blue) is under attack by HIV (yellow), the virus that causes AIDS. | Photo by National Institutes of Health (Public Domain) via Flickr.com

Aside from relentlessly finding a cure for HIV/AIDS, scientists have been working on ending the epidemic by also preventing the spread of the virus. A recently published study confirmed that HIV transmission can be prevented when an HIV patient responds well to the ART drug regimen, thus, repressing the infection.

The study referred to as Partner was published on The Lancet on Thursday. But the two-phase observations were originally carried out from 2010 to 2018 in 75 locations across 14 countries in Europe. The research is focused on determining the level of risk of HIV transmissions in couples where one partner is HIV-positive whose system has successfully suppressed the virus through ART drugs.

The study was participated by around 1,000 male serodifferent couples. Serodifferent means one of them was diagnosed HIV-positive while the other is not. Through the eight years of observations and follow-ups, researchers found no HIV transmission between these partners — despite performing condomless sexual intercourse — with the HIV patient being under the ART regimen.

However, the study also took note that at least 15 participants became HIV positive through the course of the research. But, through DNA testing, the scientists found they were infected after having intercourse with someone else who is not taking ART drugs.

As mentioned, the complete cure for HIV/AIDS is yet to be found or developed. But this study is significant since it proves the whole world that, at least, the available ART drugs really help in suppressing the virus. More importantly, it shows that with proper treatment, the risk of HIV transmissions can be greatly lessened.

On the other hand, the researchers also stressed that the success of stopping the further spread of HIV is significantly linked to proper early diagnosis. “If we don’t reduce late diagnosis, there will always be those who are not aware of their HIV status and who therefore cannot access treatment,” National AIDS Trust chief executive Deborah Gold said. “We think that the findings from this study could be incredibly powerful in breaking down some of the barriers to testing in communities where there is still a lot of stigma around HIV.”

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