There is a new optimistic message from a growing number of clinicians, politicians and PLHIV: “HIV is different now”.
The scientific understanding of HIV transmission and antiretroviral treatment has evolved considerably over the past few years: there is hope to further improve health outcomes for PLHIV with early initiation of treatment.
A lot of excitement has also been generated by the discovery that an undetectable viral load as a result of early treatment (with a CD4 count between 350 and 550) has the potential to reduce the risk of passing on HIV to a regular sexual partner by 96%.
Much like the virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission as a result of treatment in resource-rich settings, the community is now excited by another biomedical prevention opportunity: providing early and accessible treatment can make a significant contribution to the virtual elimination of sexual HIV transmission. This is one part of what has become known as “treatment as prevention”.
Australia has committed to the 2015 UN target of ending the prevalence of AIDS by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. The target includes 95% of all people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 95% of people who know their HIV-positive status having access to treatment, and 95% of people on treatment having suppressed viral loads. This commitment reflects the mounting evidence that starting treatment early is beneficial for the individual, and will also help to prevent HIV transmission if providing accessible treatment is partnered with efforts to increase HIV testing.
If you are interested in how HIV treatment blocks viral replication at distinct stages, check out this 5 minute animation explaining the life cycle of HIV and distinct stages of viral replication.
If you have any questions about HIV treatment, please call QPP’s Health Promotion and Treatments Officer toll free from a land-line on 1800 636 241, use the contact form provided or call (07) 3013 5555 (nationally).