Hope for HIV/Aids Fight

[AllAfrica]-Two new studies in Uganda and Kenya have shown that the use of anti-retroviral drugs can effectively reduce HIV/Aids infections among heterosexuals, according to results released yesterday.

The study was led by the University of Washington's International Clinical Research Centre and involved 4,758 HIV sero-discordant couples from nine sites in the two countries. Sero-discordance is where one partner has HIV and the other does not.

Less infection

The study found that individuals at high risk of HIV infection, who took a tablet containing an HIV medication, tenofovir in combination with emtricitabine daily, experienced significantly fewer infections than those who took drugs without the HIV medication.

"In the trial, daily oral TDF reduced HIV risk by an estimated 62 per cent infections and daily oral TDF/FTC reduced by an estimated 73 per cent. Both drugs were effective in both men and women, and there were no significant safety events in the trial," a statement announcing the results read.

Health experts have welcomed the breakthrough of the two studies saying that the results will fundamentally change approaches to HIV prevention in Africa.

They say the findings are a clear evidence that the new HIV prevention strategy called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP substantially reduces HIV infection risk.

Largest study

"This study is the largest to date looking at the effectiveness of PrEP," said Dr Connie Celum, a University of Washington professor of global health and medicine and the principal investigator of the study, known as the Partners PrEP Study.

The study was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"This study demonstrates that anti-retrovirals are a highly potent and fundamental cornerstone for HIV prevention and should become an integral part of global efforts for HIV prevention," she added.

Recent breakthroughs in Aids vaccine trials in various countries across the globe have given hope to scientists and researchers to do more work in finding a cure for the deadly disease.

One of the trials found that if a discordant HIV- positive person is started on anti-retroviral treatment when their immune systems are still strong, it reduces the risk of their partners contracting the disease by up to 90 per cent.

Uganda has played a crucial role in trying to find an Aids vaccine through the various trails it has undertaken.

Copyright The Monitor. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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