Studies done in three African nations show antiviral medicine can prevent HIV infection in heterosexual couples.
Groundbreaking studies released Wednesday reveal that HIV infection can actually be prevented through the daily use of HIV medication.
This is the first time there has been evidence of this kind showing that the drugs can be used for prevention.
One of the studies, conducted in Kenya and Uganda by the University of Washington, was stopped a year and half early because the results were so overwhelming. The other study was conducted in Botswana by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Over 60 percent of the world’s HIV population lives in sub-Saharan Africa.
The University of Washington study featured 4,758 couples where one was HIV positive and the other one was negative. In the course of about a year, couples who were assigned to take the antiviral drug tenofovir had 62 percent fewer infections than couples who had taken a placebo; couples assigned to take Truvada (another antiviral drug) had 73 percent fewer infections.
In the similar CDC study conducted in Botswana 1,219 heterosexual men and women were assigned to either take a placebo or Truvada. The results showed again a reduction in infection with the antiviral drug takers (63 percent) versus the placebo takers.
Both studies are set to transform the global fight against HIV and AIDS, especially among the African continent’s heterosexual couples, who have been hard hit by the epidemic.
"Effective new HIV prevention tools are urgently needed and these studies could have enormous impact in preventing heterosexual transmission," said director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) Margaret Chan, Reuters reports. She also said that her agency would now collaborate with countries in light of the study to employ more effective prevention techniques. After reviewing the data, the CDC plans on issuing updated guidelines.
(Photo: EPA/JON HRUSA /Landov)