IAC: Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy Halves New HIV Cases

British Columbia has seen precipitous drop in HIV cases since HAART introduced in 1996
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Since the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for HIV in a Canadian province in 1996, the yearly number of new HIV diagnoses there has fallen by more than half, according to research published online July 18 in The Lancet to coincide with presentation at the International AIDS Conference, held from July 18 to 23 in Vienna, Austria.

Julio S.G. Montaner, M.D., of Providence Health Care in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues conducted a population-based study of HIV transmission and HAART coverage in British Columbia, Canada, looking for an association between HAART coverage, plasma HIV-1 viral load, and the number of new HIV cases in that province.

The researchers found an increase in HAART recipients of 547 percent, from 837 to 5,413 individuals, between 1996 and 2009. During that time, new HIV diagnoses fell 52 percent, from 702 to 338 per year. The number of new HIV cases fell 3 percent for every additional 100 individuals receiving HAART and fell 14 percent for each one log10 decrease in viral load.

"We have shown a strong population-level association between increasing HAART coverage, decreased viral load, and decreased number of new HIV diagnoses per year. Our results support the proposed secondary benefit of HAART used within existing medical guidelines to reduce HIV transmission," the authors write.

Several study co-authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and/or medical device companies.

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