Findings from HPTN-052, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) determined that early initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) drastically reduces the risk of HIV transmission by 96%.
In this large multi-centered, randomized trial, 1,763 serodiscordant couples (couples where one partner is HIV negative and the other HIV positive) were divided into two groups. In one group the HIV positive partner began therapy immediately upon entering the trial. In the second group, ART's where started when the positive partners CD4 count fell below 250 cells.
Both groups received counseling on safe sex, condemns, regular HIV testing, HIV care and treatment of any STD's.
Thirty-nine people were infected with HIV throughout the course of the trial. Of the 39, 29 were linked thru genetic analysis to have been sexually transmitted thru the infected partner with 10 of the new infections occurring outside of the relationship. Only one of the infections were in the early treatment arm of the study.
Earlier studies had determined that a lower viral load reduced the risk of HIV infection. Results from HTPN-052 provide solid evidence of the protective benefit of initiating early antiretroviral treatment.
"This new finding convincingly demonstrates that treating the infected individual – and doing so sooner rather than later – can have a major impact on reducing HIV transmission," stated NIAID Director Anthony Fauci.
The HPTN-052 data is being hailed as a breakthrough in HIV prevention. Strategies to utilize the data collected from this study are currently being reviewed.
Author: Jeannie Wraight
This article does not indicate the views of the HIV Haven site