The end of AIDS?
In what could herald the beginning of the end of the AIDS pandemic, a major study has found that antiretroviral drugs can completely prevent the sexual transmission of the HIV virus. The research involved nearly 1,000 gay male couples with one partner who was HIV-positive and receiving antiretroviral treatment. Over the eight-year study, none of the men transmitted the disease to their HIV-negative partner during sex without a condom. (Fifteen men did become infected, but genetic tests showed this was because they had slept with someone other than their partner.) The study builds on earlier research that proved antiretroviral drugs’ efficacy among heterosexual couples. If everyone knew their HIV status and had access to treatment, the authors say, the disease could be completely eliminated. John Frater, an infectious disease expert at the University of Oxford who wasn’t involved in the research, tells the Financial Times that the findings “add to the argument that antiretroviral therapy is the most effective tool we have at the moment to bring about the end of the global AIDS epidemic.”