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Study: Early use
of anti-HIV drugs could stop epidemic

Study: Early use
of anti-HIV drugs could stop epidemic

Researchers at Canada's British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS say that if anti-HIV drugs were prescribed for every HIV patient around the world soon after infection, the global AIDS pandemic would be nearly halted, CanWest News Service reports. Because antiretroviral drugs can dramatically reduce HIV levels in the body and therefore make transmitting the virus much more difficult, treating all HIV-positive adults before they're able to expose their sex partners to the virus could slash the number of HIV cases in the world by 98% during the next 45 years. The number of HIV-positive people worldwide could be cut from about 40 million today to just 1 million in 2050 using the widespread treatment approach, the study authors say.

Critics say it would be impossible to implement a global treatment program because of health care infrastructure gaps in poor nations and because of the high cost of antiretroviral drugs. They also say such a program would likely fail because many people would abandon treatment because of drug-related side effects and that HIV infections could increase because people taking anti-HIV drugs may increasingly engage in risky sexual behaviors.

The Canadian study will be presented next week at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto. (The Advocate)

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