Expanded highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) coverage is associated with a 50 percent decrease in new yearly HIV infections among injection drug users, a new study has found.
The comprehensive population-based study, conducted by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE), has been presented at the 17th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in San Francisco.
These results were temporally related to an outreach effort specifically targeting injection drug users. In addition, increased HAART coverage was associated with a decrease in the community HIV plasma viral load in British Columbia.
The study results point to the effectiveness of HAART in providing life-supporting benefits to all HIV-infected people, including those in marginalized communities such as injection drug users. A previous BC-CfE study showed that five-year mortality is similar between HIV-infected injection drug users and non-users infected with HIV and treated with HAART. Today's results show that HAART's secondary benefit of HIV prevention will also be realized among drug users.
"Our results clearly reveal the need to develop specific initiatives to increase HAART coverage among injection drug users," said Dr. Julio Montaner, Director, BC-CfE, and an early proponent of expanding HAART coverage as a way to decrease progression to AIDS and death in HIV-infected individuals and to prevent HIV infections among individuals at risk. (ANI)