"Our findings sharply contrast the gloomy predictions that came out of the International AIDS Conference in Barcelona last month," said Sally Blower, UCLA professor of biomathematics and a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute. "Those statistics calculated that AIDS would claim 65 million lives by 2020."
"Our study found that expansion of drug treatment programs can eliminate HIV on a community level -- even without eradicating HIV in individuals," she said. "It's the first scientific rationale to show that treating more people in developing countries would produce dramatic impact and save substantial numbers of lives."
Blower and her colleagues conducted a new analysis of a previously published mathematical model that focused on the HIV-infected population in San Francisco. They chose the city because it possesses the same high prevalence of HIV as in developing countries, including African nations, where 30 percent of the population is infected.
The research team found that ARV drug therapy benefits both infected and uninfected persons.
"Antiretroviral therapy makes an effective prevention tool," Blower said. "It extends the lives of HIV-infected individuals who take it. It also decreases the number of new infections in the community. The eventual outcome is epidemic eradication."
"It's sort of like having a vaccine out there," she said. "Although the drugs can't cure people, they do decrease the community level of HIV infection. As less people become infected, the epidemic eventually runs out of steam."
According to Blower, the UCLA study suggests that the treatment and prevention of HIV infection are not two entirely d
Contact: Elaine Schmidt
University of California - Los Angeles