HIV Treatment as Prevention: Science’s Most Important Breakthrough in 2011


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Science awards Breakthrough of the Year to HIV antiretroviral study. Image courtesy of the National Institutes of Health

Science: The Future of HIV Treatment and Prevention

Scientists knew that ART medication reduced the viral load in an HIV patient, so they hypothesized that patients taking these antiviral medications might be less infectious. This theory, however, was unproven until this study. While this does not mean that the HIV epidemic will end, since the study reports that about 52 percent of the people who need ART medication don’t have access to the medicine, the results are encouraging.

The results of this clinical trial provided results that support the use of ART as a public health strategy to reduce the spread of HIV worldwide. As Science says, this was a most important breakthrough in 2011.


Cohen, J. Breakthrough of the Year. December 22, 2011. Science. Accessed December 22, 2011.

Cohen, M. S., Chen, Y. Q., McCauley, M., Gamble, T., Hosseinipour, M. C., Kumarasamy, N., Hakim, J. G., et al. Prevention of HIV-1 Infection with Early Antiretroviral Therapy. (2011). New England Journal of Medicine. 365(6), 493-505. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1105243. Accessed December 22, 2011.

Bloom, F. Breakthroughs of the Year. Science. Accessed December 22, 2011.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV/AIDS Basic Statistics. (2011). Accessed December 22, 2011.

HIV Prevention Trials Network. What is HPTN 0152? Accessed December 22, 2011.
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