October 27, 2009
U.S. to Launch 3-Year Comprehensive “Test and Treat” Study in Bronx and DC
Federal officials are preparing a three-year pilot study of an HIV prevention strategy that involves testing nearly every adult in a community and promptly providing antiretroviral treatment to those who test positive, The New York Times reports. The so-called “test and treat” strategy will be piloted in the Bronx and Washington, DC, two areas with the some of nation’s highest HIV rates; in DC, at least 3 percent and as many as 5 percent of the population is HIV positive.
Previous studies of heterosexual couples have shown that once positive partners begin adhering to a standard, three-drug HIV regimen, viral loads in their blood and other bodily fluids drop, making them less likely to transmit the virus.
According to the article, the study, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), will do more than evaluate the efficacy of this “test and treat” strategy as an HIV prevention measure. It will also examine how well the strategy can operate despite lingering barriers to testing and care.
Even when doctors offer to test their patients as part of routine medical care, “a significant number refuse,” said Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of NIAID. He added that this new strategy will offer testing outside traditional health care settings.
“When you have a campaign like this, you’ve got to pull out all the stops,” Fauci said. “How are we going to get everybody? Should we have testing in Walmart? Should we have testing at Nathan’s hot dog places?”
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