Times of India
16 May 2011
HIV positive men and women, put on antiretroviral treatment (ART) from an early stage of infection, are significantly less likely to transmit the virus to their sexual partners, finds a large multinational clinical study conducted by the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN), a global partnership dedicated to reducing the transmission of HIV through cutting–edge biomedical, behavioural, and structural interventions. City–based the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) was one of the sites of the study.
"The results are the first from a major randomised clinical trial to indicate that treating an HIV–infected individual can reduce the risk of sexual transmission of HIV to an uninfected partner," said Ramesh Paranjape, director, NARI, while announcing the findings of a study (HPTN 052) on Monday.
Previous observational studies and mathematical models have indicated that early ART could reduce transmission, but these new findings provide stronger evidence. "This new finding convincingly demonstrates that treating the infected individual sooner rather than later can have a major impact on reducing HIV transmission," Paranjape said.
The study was a well–designed and meticulously conducted clinical trial among sexually active HIV–1 Sero discordant couples to see if by giving medicines which treat HIV infection (Antiretroviral Treatment/ART) and thus by reducing plasma viral load prevents sexual transmission of HIV–1 to uninfected couples even when they have a relatively good immunity.
The study was conducted in 13 centres in 9 countries in Asia, Africa, South America and the US. Past research has shown that HIV is more easily transmitted sexually from male to female than vice versa.
"In the study at NARI in Pune, we have 175 couples, of whom 66% of the infected partners (Index case) are male, said Dr Sanjay Mehendale (Director, NIE) and PI for the study. This challenging study began with 10 couples in 2005 as a pilot and the full fledged study began in July 2007 with the 175th couple enrolled in April 2010," said Arun Risbud, current principal investigator of the NARI Clinical Trial Unit.
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