HIV less infectious than originally believed
This discovery may improve the global fight to improve the world’s quality of life by preventing HIV transmission. The research also further assists the plan to treat patients with antiretroviral drugs, which may prevent the transmission of HIV before AIDS begins.
Just weeks after people contract HIV infections, they experience several months of acute infection. During this time, HIV levels in the bloodstream are extremely high. If patients do not receive treatment during this phase, they enter a chronic phase that lasts 10 years and precedes AIDS.
Researchers have long thought that the acute phase also means that the HIV infection is more contagious than usual, but new data shows that these original estimates of the contagiousness were much too high.
"We found that people are less likely to spread HIV to others during this early stage than has been believed for many years," Steve Bellan, mathematician and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, said. "Our new estimates imply that some novel strategies to control HIV may be even more effective, and it can help communities to direct public health resources to save more lives."
More details can be found in the online journal "PLOS Medicine."