Study shows early HIV treatment could prevent transmission

Image courtesy unaids.org

An article published today in the New York Times reports that getting HIV infected individuals to treatment immediately after diagnoses, instead of waiting for a low CD4 count, greatly reduces the risk of transmission.

The study, lead by Dr. Myron Cohen at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill followed more than 1700 couple, and the early results from the study led an independent review panel to conclude that all participants should be given treatment.

This is definitely good news for those working to end the HIV epidemic. In the past few years, several campaigns have focused on testing and treating individuals as early as possible, including UNAIDS Test and Treat; the Know Your Status campaign targeting Black Americans and the various community-level interventions.

The article brought up a good point-about the doctor patient communication-regarding access to treatment. It reminded that despite the promise of the study, it is still up to doctors to decide with their patients when to begin treatment. Also mentioned were the various barriers to access to care. In the Caribbean region, like most of the world, those who need treatment are not always able to get it because of cost or other issues.

In what ways can health communication be used to advance the research presented in this study? How might one design an intervention targeted at doctors treating newly infected HIV patients? What type of health education intervention would you design to let people know that early treatment is an option after getting tested?

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