New York, US (PANA) - The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) on Friday welcomed new evidence which shows that anti-retroviral therapy could help prevent HIV infections.
A statement by UNAIDS said: ``Researchers from the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies presented the results, which show that in areas where anti-retroviral therapy uptake is high, people who do not have HIV are 38 per cent less likely to acquire the virus than in areas of low uptake''.
It quoted Paul De Lay, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, as saying that, ``these findings are extremely important. UNAIDS encourages all countries and communities to achieve high coverage of anti-retroviral therapy, both for the benefit of people living with HIV and for the communities in which they live''.
He noted that, ``the findings also confirm results from a recent study which state that if an HIV-positive person adheres to an effective anti-retroviral therapy regime, the risk of
transmitting the virus to their uninfected sexual partner can be reduced by 96 per cent''.
``This is the first time that the impact of anti-retroviral therapy on HIV incidence has been demonstrated in a community setting. The study used data collected since 2003 in a
rural area of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
``In this area, 20,000 people living with HIV had accessed ant-iretroviral therapy since 2004 through public primary health care,'' De Lay stated..
The statement disclosed that, ``from 2004 to 2011, 16,500 HIV-negative people were followed through population-based HIV surveillance. During the study period, 1,413
people were newly infected with HIV – an incidence rate of 2.6 per cent''.
It also said: ``In areas where more than 30 per cent of all people living with HIV were receiving anti-retroviral therapy, the incidence rate was significantly lower, as people were nearly 40 per cent less likely to acquire HIV than in low uptake areas''.
``In recent years, South Africa has expanded the eligibility criteria for initiation of anti-retroviral therapy in line with the 2010 recommendations by the World Health
Organization (WHO),'' it added.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 9March2012