HIV-Transmission Drops Among Heterosexuals on Antiretroviral Therapy

There was a 93% decrease in transmission among HIV-positive individuals taking ART.

Researchers discovered that antiretroviral therapy (ART) provides long-lasting protection against heterosexual transmission of HIV.

They discovered a 93% decrease in transmission when the HIV-positive individual started ART at a higher CD4 cell count, according to the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 study published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

“The HPTN 052 study confirms the urgent need to treat people with HIV infection as soon as infection is diagnosed to protect their health and for public health,” said principle investigator Myron S. Cohen, MD. “This study represents more than a decade of effort by a worldwide team of investigators, and the tremendous courage and generosity of more than 3,500 clinical trial participants.”

The study began in 2005, and included 1763 HIV-serodiscordant couples in 9 countries. Approximately 97% of the couples were heterosexual.

HIV-positive participants were assigned to either start ART early or to start once their immune system declined. Interim study results suggest a 96% reduction in transmission with early ART.

The study continued for another 4 years, and all HIV-positive participants started treatment. The results could potentially help the “treatment as prevention” strategy to prevent the spread of HIV, the study concluded.