HIV/AIDS management experts brainstorm in Tanzania

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) – An HIV-infected person who begins antiretroviral treatment early can reduce the risk of transmission of the virus by up to 96 percent, a clinical director of the HIV Programme in the US, Dr. Paul Sax, told a meeting of medical officers involved in the management of HIV/AIDS in Tanzania here Wednesday.

Sax, from the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, highlighted the significant progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, saying the suppression rate of antiretroviral therapy (ART) drugs has risen from 37 percent in 1996 to 87 percent in 2010.  

“This improvement was made possible due to drug advances that include introduction of new and less toxic ART drugs and improved treatment options,” he said, noting that a 2011 ‘Treatment as Prevention’ study determined that an HIV-infected person who begins treatment early reduces the risk of transmission by up to 96 percent.

Speakers at the one-day conference, hosted by the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), agreed that early intervention can have a huge impact on containing the disease, but availability of financial and human resources for implementation must be considered in the debate of when to initiate treatment and which combination of drugs to use.

Dr. Patrick R. Swai, Senior Programme Management Specialist of HIV in Tanzania, lauded PEPFAR's partnership with Tanzanians combating HIV/AIDS.

PEPFAR works with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Global Fund to provide life-saving ARV treatment for more than 300,000 men, women and children, and provide care and support for more than 1.2 million people, including more than 360,000 orphans and vulnerable children.

The meeting was designed to review the state-of-the-art of two of the major questions in ART: when to start therapy and what regimens to start.

Though not a cure, ART is a treatment for HIV/AIDS which experts believe can increase life expectancy and reduce opportunistic infections.  

Recent studies have also shown that ART reduces the likelihood of transmission of the virus and contributes to prevention.
-0- PANA AR/VAO 22Aug2012

22 Agosto 2012 13:50:45

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