Can we treat away the HIV/AIDS epidemic?

On December 1, 2008, in HIV/AIDS, research, by Karen Grepin

Today is World AIDS Day. I therefore thought it appropriate to post about something HIV/AIDS related today. In the upcoming Lancet, there is going to be a very interesting article that is likely to generate a lot of discussion. The the paper, the authors (Reuben M Granich, Charles F Gilks, Christopher Dye, Kevin M De Cock, and Brian G Williams) build a mathematical model to estimate whether or not the spread of the epidemic can be stopped by treatment alone, even in countries in Africa.

Basically, they assume that they can test everyone for HIV and then put everyone who tests positive immediately on ARV therapy. They find that this approach can effectively eliminate incidence of the disease within about 10 years and reduce prevalence in another 40 or so (basically until those who have it die). I guess nothing in this should be surprising, intuitively if we assume that treatment does greatly reduce transmission and everyone who is infected is getting treated, then of course, it should follow that transmission will drop dramatically.

The real question, however, is whether or not such a approach would even be possible in the first place? If this strategy were to be true in high infection countries, then it should also be true in low infection rates, so might this be a sensible approach for higher income countries as well? Would any of this ever be feasible?

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1 Response » to “Can we treat away the HIV/AIDS epidemic?”

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