HIV Could Be Wiped Off the Planet Today, UCLA Says

HIV Could Be Wiped Off the Planet Today, UCLA Says
File photo by Esteban Alvarez/Flickr

These times are a far cry from the old days, when sex came with lethal risk, or at least mortal fear.

As you well know, HIV infection is no longer a death sentence. But it's also still with us.

UCLA researchers this week said that "eliminating HIV is possible" simply through adherence to treatment regimens.

The "treatment as prevention" theory works, a two-decade analysis by researchers from UCLA and Denmark has found.

The problem is that patients have to take their meds. In the United States, that's not always the case. Ninety-eight percent of Denmark's HIV patients take all their meds, researchers found. The result has been only 1.4 new HIV infections per 1,000 men who have sex with men, the university said in a statement.

"Treatment makes people less infectious," explains Justin Okano, the study’s lead author.

The study is based on a Danish analysis of "all" men in that country who have sex with men, UCLA says. The project dates back to 1995.

The research was published this week in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

There's a strong correlation between treatment and falling rates of HIV in Denmark, the research shows. "Our results show treatment as prevention has been slowly but steadily working to end the Danish epidemic," says Laurence Palk, a co-author of the study.

By 2013 the epidemic was close to being ended in Denmark, UCLA said. 

The nation has some advantages in the war against the virus, however, the academics noted. It enjoys universal health care and free HIV treatment.

"The Danes have done what nobody else in the world has been able to do," said Sally Blower, the study’s senior author and the director of the Center for Biomedical Modeling at UCLA. "They have almost eliminated their HIV epidemic, and they have achieved this simply by providing treatment."

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