Dual Treatment Could Reduce HIV Transmission in Couples

Transmission rates reduced 96% among couples who both received treatment.

In a recent study, scientists have found that a dual treatment regimen with HIV medication may prevent transmission among HIV-serodiscordant couples.

This prospective implementation study was conducted to test how feasible and acceptable a dual treatment regimen would be. The program offers antiretroviral therapy (ART) to both members of a couple with 1 HIV-positive partner and 1 HIV-negative partner (HIV-serodiscordant).

There were 1013 heterosexual HIV-serodiscordant couples enrolled in the study, which was published by PLOS Medicine. All couples included were considered high risk of transmission, based on both behavioral and biological characteristics.

ART was given to the HIV-positive partner, and antiretroviral drugs for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) were given to the HIV-negative partner prior to, and during the first 6 months of ART, according to the study.

The main goal was to analyze the implementation of the method. Approximately halfway through the study, HIV transmission rates were 96% lower than originally predicted.

Other recent studies have found a transmission decrease of 93% when the HIV-positive partner started ART at a higher CD4 cell count. However, the HIV-negative partner was not treated with PrEP during this study.

This dual treatment method could potentially reduce HIV transmission even further among serodiscordant couples. In the current study, dual treatment was associated with high acceptability and adherence.

These new findings could provide a promising new way to reduce HIV transmission rates and overcome the epidemic, which is especially prevalent in developing countries, the study concluded.