Model Predicts Halt to Africa’s AIDS Epidemic

November 26, 2008 at 8:50 am | Posted in aids, hiv | Leave a comment
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 26, 2008; Page A04

A strategy of testing adults every year for HIV and immediately treating every person found to be infected could virtually end the AIDS epidemic in Africa in about a decade, new research suggests.

While nobody is seriously espousing that approach, the “thought experiment” outlined this week in the Lancet journal emphasizes the usefulness of antiretroviral drugs as tools for preventing the spread of HIV infection as well as treating it.

The power of AIDS drugs to dramatically slow the epidemic is the consequence of two well-established facts.

The first is that the amount of virus circulating in the bloodstream is the most important factor determining whether an infected person transmits the disease to another during a high-risk encounter. The second is that AIDS drugs can lower this “viral load” in the bloodstream to one-millionth of what it is without treatment.

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