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To save lives, HIV treatment alone isn’t enough. Suppressing HIV is what matters.

In 2011, a landmark clinical trial showed that early initiation of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) for people who are HIV-infected cuts the risk of HIV transmission by a stunning 96 percent. The trial provided powerful new momentum to global efforts to expand treatment access — both for the health of individuals living with HIV and for the potential to prevent millions of new infections.

Getting people onto treatment, though, is only half the story. To save lives and slow the HIV epidemic, treatment needs to achieve long-term virologic suppression — meaning the level of HIV in a person’s body is essentially undetectable. In most countries, only a minority of people with HIV have their virus in check. To make viral suppression the norm, better adherence programs, viral load monitoring and other steps are urgently needed.

What We're Reading

To complete the last leg South Africa has four important things to do. It must address the gaps in HIV testing; it must start people on antiretroviral treatment and make sure that they remain on it; it must ensure that people maintain virological suppression and, lastly, it must strengthen its strategies around prevention.

February 12, 2018

Most HIV-positive people in France under treatment take a daily dose of antiviral drugs for life. However, a major trial is currently underway that may confirm that patients could omit several days of treatment a week without risk to their health.

November 30, 2017
The Conversation

This study tracked nearly 34,000 participants from 30 communities for 17 years and attributed significant declines in the rate of infection to combination prevention. The interventions under review included voluntary medical male circumcision, antiretroviral treatment and viral suppression and a number of behavioral changes.

November 29, 2017
New England Journal of Medicine
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