Anti-retroviral drugs ‘could be best hope of curbing AIDS’

Anti-retroviral drugs cut transmission of HIV by more than 90 per cent

The spread of Aids can be dramatically curbed by the use of anti-retroviral drugs which cut transmission of the disease by more than 90 per cent, a study has found.

As well as extending the lives of those already infected with the virus, the drugs make the likelihood of their sexual partners being infected extremely small.

The finding has huge implications for the management of the pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa, the worst affected region of the world. It also lends support to claims that the use of anti-retroviral drugs offers the best hope for eradicating the pandemic that has claimed more than 25 million lives worldwide.

A vaccine against Aids remains a distant dream, and other methods including vaginal microbicides have proved disappointing. In seeking ways to prevent the spread of the disease – other than by abstinence, male circumcision or the use of condoms – drugs may now offer the best hope.

Anti-retroviral drugs have transformed the outlook for sufferers with HIV by extending lives to a near normal span. But their value as a preventive measure in curbing – or even eliminating n the spread of the disease has not been recognised until recently.

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