A worldwide shift in HIV treatment can be achieved by providing immediate medication to patients after diagnosis than waiting for signs of illness to appear, said AIDS researchers.
"Immediate anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment more than doubles an individual's prospects of staying healthy and surviving," said the Vancouver Consensus, a statement signed by leading AIDS scientists and officials at the opening of the International AIDS Society (IAS) conference, in this western Canadian city.
Scientists said new research presented at the conference proves that immediate treatment prevents infected people from passing on the infection, while other reports showcase that preventive therapy "can effectively protect people at risk of infection through prophylactic use," said the statement, signed by heads of the International AIDS society, UNAIDS and funding agencies.
The last global AIDS meeting in Vancouver, in 1996, marked a breakthrough: research showing that triple-combination anti-retroviral treatment worked. The findings meant that instead of an HIV diagnosis being an almost-certain death sentence, it became possible for an infected person to live a normal life while on treatment.
"Vancouver is going to make history again,because prevention will be definitely established at this conference as the new standard of care. Other research will show it is possible to decrease HIV transmission rates by 95%. We now have the opportunity of ending the pandemic," said Julio Montaner, conference co-chair and researcher
Michel Sidibe of UNAIDS said investments in HIV diagnosis and treatment pay off, and noted the world had beat its goal of having 15 million of the world's 35 million people diagnosed with HIV in treatment by 2015.