Treatment as Prevention of HIV Transmission

Martha Kerr

July 27, 2012

July 27, 2012 (Washington, DC) — "The paradigm for use of antiretroviral therapy has shifted; treatment and prevention have converged," a panel from the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) announced here at AIDS 2012: XIX International AIDS Conference.

The foundation of the approach requires treatment as soon as HIV-positivity is established and the use of preexposure prophylaxis, said José M. Zuniga, PhD, MPH, president and CEO of IAPAC in Washington, DC, and a member of the IAPAC TasP/PrEP Advisory Committe.

"Successful treatment as prevention will require higher levels of HIV testing, enhanced linkage to and retention in care, access to quality treatment, adherence support, and new ways to monitor coverage and treatment," reports the IAPAC panel in its consensus statement.

Julio Montaner, MD, director of the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, chair in AIDS research and head of division of AIDS at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and past-president of the International AIDS Society, told meeting attendees that this should put to rest any discussion: "Treating the individual helps them but also helps reduce transmission of the virus.... Early treatment reduces morbidity, mortality, and transmission."

"It is no longer a matter of whether we want to treat or if we can; now we know we have to," Dr. Montaner explained.

"I think we can curb the AIDS epidemic," copanelist Kenneth Mayer, MD, chair of the IAPAC TasP/PrEP Advisory Committee, told Medscape Medical News. "There are compelling data that these efforts work." Dr. Mayer is also a visiting professor of medicine at Harvard University and medical research director at Fenway Institute, both in Boston.

"We need to decriminalize treatment," Dr. Montaner added. Efforts at HIV detection and treatment directed at prison populations and sex workers are well underway in Canada, he said. Convincing politicians that early access to affordable treatment decreases morbidity and mortality and reduces HIV transmission is something that needs to be tackled, he noted.

"Our challenge is how to convey hope...that ending AIDS is more than a cliché," Dr. Zuniga said.

The speakers have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

AIDS 2012: XIX International AIDS Conference. Presented July 26, 2012.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.