Monday, February 22, 2010

Can AIDS Be Erradicated by Mass Prescription of Anti-Retroviral Drugs?

"Mass prescription of anti-retroviral drugs could eradicate the disease within 40 years...Blocking transmission can only be done with an extensive testing regime followed by rapid treatment with anti-retroviral drugs to everyone found to be HIV positive, [AIDS researcher Brian Williams] said."---The Independent (2-22-10)

According to All Africa.com (2-22-10), the number of HIV- infected people in the U.S. is about 1 in 300; but in some "hot spots" like Washington, D.C., the number of HIV-infected people reaches 1 in 15. Perhaps 20-25% of HIV-infected people in the U.S. are unaware of their disease.

Fortunately, God has sent us brilliant scientists who are working on therapies and eventually even a cure for this dreaded disease. I expect that mendacious junk-science publications like the conspiracist Washington D.C. Rock Creek Free Press and other Truther-affiliated slanderers will twist this latest life-saving scientific discovery into yet another ignorant and lethal conspiracy theory that maligns scientists, drug companies, and the government.

The BBC (2-21-10) and The Independent (2-22-10) are reporting on a presentation by the famous AIDS researcher Brian Williams at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Diego.

Steve Connor, the science editor for the U.K. Independent (2-22-10), reports:

Testing everyone at risk of HIV and treating them with anti-retroviral drugs could eradicate the global epidemic within 40 years, according to the scientist at the centre of a radical new approach to fighting Aids.

An aggressive programme of prescribing anti-retroviral treatment (ART) to every person infected with HIV could stop all new infections in five years and eventually wipe out the epidemic, said Brian Williams of the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis.

Dr Williams is part of a growing body of experts who believe that anti-HIV drugs are probably the best hope of preventing and even eliminating the spread of Aids, rather than waiting for the development of an effective vaccine or relying solely on people changing their sexual lifestyle.

The idea will be tested in the coming year, with the start of the first properly controlled clinical trial involving thousands of people living in a part of South Africa with a high incidence of HIV and Aids. Dr Williams said this will be followed by similar trials in the US, where HIV is rampant among some inner-city communities.

"Our immediate best hope is to use ART not only to save lives but also to reduce transmission of HIV. I believe if we used ART drugs we could effectively stop transmission of HIV within five years," Dr Williams said. "It may be possible to stop HIV transmission and halve Aids-related TB within 10 years and eliminate both infections within 40 years," he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego, California...

"The problem is that we are using the drugs to save lives, but we are not using them to stop transmission," Dr Williams said. Blocking transmission can only be done with an extensive testing regime followed by rapid treatment with anti-retroviral drugs to everyone found to be HIV positive, he said.

"The concentration of the virus drops 10,000 times [with ART] ... This probably translates into a 25-fold reduction in infectiousness. But if you did this it would be enough essentially to stop transmission," he said.

A study published in 2008 showed that it is theoretically possible to cut new HIV cases by 95 per cent, from a prevalence of 20 per 1,000 to 1 per 1,000, within 10 years of implementing a programme of universal testing and prescription of ART drugs. [See full text.]

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