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AIDS drugs may prevent infection

by nickj on July 13, 2011

Results of a pair of studies show an encouraging future in the fight against AIDS. The Washington Post reports that research conducted in three African countries suggests that AIDS drugs taken daily can drastically lower one's chances of becoming infected with HIV in the first place.

The studies build on previous work that found that similar treatment had a positive impact on certain individuals, including homosexual males and women, but these findings expand the group to include heterosexual men and women, who are the most affected by the AIDS pandemic in Africa.

The studies, conducted in Uganda, Kenya and Botswana, had drastic findings. In fact, the research done in Uganda and Kenya, which was conducted by University of Washington scientists, was stopped early because the findings were so substantial.

In that study, researchers looked at more than 4,700 couples in which one partner was infected with HIV and the other wasn't. They gave some of the couples (including non-infected partners) drugs used to treat the virus and gave others a placebo. What they found was that only 31 of the individuals who were given the medication became infected.

"These results are fundamentally important for HIV prevention, especially in Africa," Jared Baeten, a physician with the University of Washington, told the news source.

Despite the advancement, doctors recognize they still have a long way to go. According to the international AIDS charity AVERT, there are an estimated 22.5 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa in the regions, which is about two thirds of the global total.

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