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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

The Trump administration’s disregard for women’s rights is reflected in its attempt to remove the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that insurers cover birth control and its expansion of the “global gag rule” banning U.S. funding to international organizations that so much as discuss abortion. The latter policy is now set to prevent women across the globe from receiving a powerful new HIV medication when it is made available, while men will have unfettered access to it.

February 8, 2019

For almost four decades, researchers have worked tirelessly to find a cure for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. There’s still more work to do, but a recent commentary published in JAMA by Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and his colleagues serves as a reminder of just how far we’ve come. Today, thanks to scientific advances, especially the development of effective antiretroviral therapy (ART), most people living with HIV can live full and productive lives.

January 25, 2019
The Body

High rates of viral suppression are possible in vulnerable populations starting antiretroviral treatment (ART) immediately after they are referred to a clinic for treatment. One year after treatment uptake, 95.8% of patients in the Ward 86 ‘RAPID’ programme in San Francisco had achieved viral suppression, defined as a viral load below 200 copies per ml, despite high levels of substance abuse, housing instability and mental health problems.

January 7, 2019

People with resistance to first- and second-line antiretroviral drugs can still achieve high rates of viral suppression in the first year on third-line regimens according to a South African study published in the January issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

January 4, 2019
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