Experts have emphasized the critical role of expanding access to HIV treatment under a "Treatment as Prevention" strategy to stop the HIV pandemic.
Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) and Past President of the International AIDS Society (IAS) - strongly reinforces the view that the benefits of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) extend beyond the remarkable effectiveness of the treatment to prevent the onset of AIDS and prolong life, to dramatically reduce HIV transmission.
Based on HAART's effectiveness in reducing transmission, Dr. Montaner is calling on the international community to support an immediate and expanded roll out of HAART under the Treatment as Prevention strategy, as pioneered by the BC-CfE in British Columbia, Canada.
"Treatment as Prevention is one of the most important and promising additions to the range of prevention strategies available to us today," said Dr. Elly Katabira, President of the IAS and Chair of IAS 2011.
"Dr. Montaner's column is a rallying call for the universal endorsement and funding of this approach for the benefit of our future generations," she said.
The Treatment as Prevention strategy advocates for widespread HIV testing and facilitated access to free HIV treatment for all medically eligible HIV-positive individuals.
Current HIV treatment reduces the level of HIV in the blood to undetectable levels, thus improving the health of HIV-positive individuals.
At the same time, the treatment decreases the level of HIV in sexual fluids to undetectable levels, thereby reducing the likelihood of HIV transmission by over 90 per cent.
"The evidence is clear: treatment conclusively prevents morbidity, mortality and transmission," concluded Dr. Montaner.
The comments were reported in the Lancet, a leading global medical journal.