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AIDS Study Marks Prevention Breakthrough With Antiretroviral Drugs – WSJ.com

AIDS Study Marks Prevention Breakthrough With Antiretroviral Drugs – WSJ.com. This is very exciting news — for a long time, AIDS activists made the claim that offering treatment to people who are HIV-positive was a good strategy for prevention, because without access to treatment, why would anyone get tested? And if you didn’t know your HIV status, you were much less likely to practice safe sex, etc. While this was and is plausible, I’ve never seen this hypothesis tested.

However, the recent medical study demonstrates conclusively, what medical professionals have been thinking/hoping for some time now — that ARVs reduce infectiousness. In the study cited, it reduced transmission among heterosexual couples by 96 percent! It’s not a vaccine, but it certainly implies that treatment will be critical for prevention. When world leaders get together for the high level UN meeting on AIDS in early June, no one will be able to credibly propose switching AIDS-related budgets away from treatment in favor of prevention. Perhaps this link helps to explain why we are beginning to see infection rates fall in several African countries — as treatment access has greatly expanded in recent years.

About Evan Lieberman

I am a Professor of Political Science at MIT, and I conduct research, write, and teach about development, ethnic politics, and research methods.

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