CDC issues brief on prevention benefits of antiretroviral therapy HIV treatment

February 06, 2013
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health Infectious Disease 

In January 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an issue brief on the topic of HIV treatment as prevention; in other words, the benefits of treating HIV-infected persons with antiretroviral therapy to decrease the risk of HIV transmission.

For many years, there was only circumstantial evidence that treating HIV-infected persons with antiretroviral therapy significantly reduced their risk of transmitting the infection to sexual and needle-sharing partners who did not have the virus.

A study was finally published in 2011 by the HIV Prevention Trials Network that found early initiation of antiretroviral therapy can prevent the sexual transmission of HIV to an uninfected partner. The results of the study confirmed that early HIV treatment had a profound prevention benefit, reducing the risk of transmitting HIV to an uninfected partner by 96 percent.

The CDC’s brief follows the March 2012 revised guidelines for the use of antiretroviral agents in HIV-1 -infected adults and adolescents released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council. These updated guidelines reflect the emerging data showing the benefit of antiretroviral therapy in preventing secondary transmission of HIV and recommend antiretroviral therapy for all HIV-infected individuals regardless of CD4 cell count.

Physicians can find "Issue Brief: The Prevention Benefits of HIV Treatment" on the CDC’s website. The revised "Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-1-Infected Adults and Adolescents" are available online.

For more information on federal HIV treatment guidelines and treatment as prevention, see CMA ON-CALL document #6007 (formerly #0450), "Goals and Recommendations of State and Federal HIV/AIDS Programs." This document, as well as the rest of the CMA health law library, is available free to members. Nonmembers can purchase CMA ON-CALL documents for $2 per page.

Contact: Melanie Neumeyer,(800) 786-4262 or mneumeyer@cmadocs.org.


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