NIH study supports BC treatment as prevention model
National Institutes of Health study supports BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS’ findings that HAART significantly reduces transmission and spread of HIV
The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced today the results of a landmark international study evaluating the impact of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on the transmission of HIV within sero-discordant heterosexual couples. The study was led by Dr Myron Cohen and conducted by the NIH sponsored HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN), and is known as the HPTN 052 protocol.
The results of HPTN 052 confirmed that the use of HAART decreased HIV transmission by over 90%. Additionally, the study showed that earlier initiation of HAART was associated with a greater than 40% reduction in the rate of disease progression.
"This US study highlights the effectiveness of the made-in-B.C. solution in reducing the transmission and spread of HIV/AIDS through treatment." said Michael de Jong, BC Minister of Health. "These results may assist other jurisdictions in the world to consider adopting this treatment as a prevention model to stop HIV disease progression and to prevent HIV transmission."
The findings of HPTN 052 confirm those previously reported by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE). In 2009 BC-CfE investigators reported a greater than 90% reduction in HIV incidence among injection drug users in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver as a direct result of the introduction of HAART in that community. More recently, on July 18, 2010, the BC-CfE published in the Lancet, a long-term study demonstrating a greater than 60% reduction in HIV new diagnoses in the province of British Columbia, as a result of the introduction of HAART in 1996 and a subsequent expansion of HAART coverage starting in 2003.
Data resulting from BC-CfE research shows that the number of individuals actively receiving HAART has a strong impact on overall viral load and new diagnoses in the community. As HAART coverage increased, new HIV diagnoses decreased, as HAART coverage stabilized, so to do viral load and new HIV diagnoses. These results have been instrumental in the crafting of the new UNAIDS Treatment 2.0 initiative announced by Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS, as a central pillar of the Global strategy to control HIV/AIDS.
“The BC-CfE celebrates the successful completion of this important study that definitively confirms the secondary preventive value of HAART, as it not only decreases HIV disease progression, it also dramatically decreases HIV transmission,” said Dr. Julio Montaner, BC-CfE director. “These results clearly support continued efforts to expand HIV testing and treatment initiatives to curb the impact of HIV/AIDS as pioneered by the BC-CfE, and currently being adopted in San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC in the USA and in China.”
HAART treatment plays an important role in the health of people living with HIV, preventing HIV transmission and maximizing public health resources. Recognized as the gold standard treatment for HIV, HAART uses a combination of drugs to stop HIV from progressing to AIDS, extending life expectancy, and significantly reducing HIV-related deaths in diagnosed individuals.
Based on HAART’s effectiveness and ongoing research at the BC-CfE, the government of B.C. is investing in improving access to HAART. In February 2010, the B.C. government announced a $48 million investment over four years to support a pilot project to enhance outreach to dramatically expand HIV testing and treatment for hard-to-reach, HIV-infected individuals. The pilot project is being led by the BC-CfE, and evaluated as part of the BC-CfE’s innovative Seek and Treat for the Optimal Prevention of HIV/AIDS (STOP HIV/AIDS) research program.
View the complete text of the NIAID study.