TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

UNAIDS welcomes new study on antiretrovirals

The Joint U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS welcomed a new study on Thursday that found a daily retroviral can reduce the risk of HIV infection in HIV-negative individuals who inject drugs.

The new study, which was conducted by the Thai Ministry of Public Health, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that HIV-negative men and women who injected drugs were 49 percent less likely to be infected by HIV when taking a daily dose of the antiviral tenofovir. The researchers enrolled approximately 1,930 men and 482 women and compared the results of taking the antiretroviral as oral pre-exposure prophylaxis to taking a placebo.

"The results of this study are important and if used effectively in HIV programming could have a significant impact in protecting people who inject drugs from becoming infected with HIV," Michel Sidibé, the executive director of UNAIDS, said.

Sidibé said that UNAIDS continues to have strong support for a combined approach to prevent new HIV infections among individuals who inject drugs.

"Piece by piece scientific advances are paving the way to the end of the AIDS epidemic," Sidibé said. "The full potential of antiretroviral therapy in keeping people alive and well and in preventing new HIV infections is becoming apparent."

Sidibé pointed out that UNAIDS does not believe a single intervention will be completely protective in preventing HIV transmission. The organization supports combination harm reduction measures, such as accessible healthcare services, police and law enforcement strategies, the provision of clean needles and syringes and opioid substitution therapy to prevent new infections among drug users.