Implementing a program of universal HIV testing and immediate antiretroviral treatment (ART) for infected individuals could have a major impact on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Washington, DC, but a new study finds that it would not halt the epidemic, something that a previous report had projected.
In a paper that will appear in the August 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases and has been released online, researchers find that the so-called "test-and-treat" strategy could reduce new HIV infections by 15 percent over the next five years while conferring large survival benefits to HIV-infected patients.
"Test-and-treat will save lives, but it won't stop the HIV epidemic in its tracks all by itself," says Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Division of Infectious Disease, who led the study." It is only a single new and important page in the HIV-prevention playbook."
Test-and-treat has been the subject of widespread interest and controversy in the scientific community. In January 2009, WHO scientists published a report in The Lancet suggesting that a voluntary system of annual HIV testing of all adults, followed by immediate provision of ART for those testing positive, "could nearly stop transmission and drive HIV into an elimination phase." Inspired by these findings, researchers and public health officials have rushed to design and implement test-and-treat studies and interventions. The National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) recently announced a two-year, $26.4 million partnership with the Washington, DC, Department of Health that includes a pilot study of the test-and-treat strategy. However, some experts have expressed concern that the assumptions underlying the WHO findings painted too optimistic a picture of the likely outcomes.
The current study used epidemiologic data and results from HIV screening programs conducted in the U.S. capital to give a realistic picture of the likely impact of a test-and-treat effort in that city, which has one of the nation's largest rates of HIV infection. This contrasts with the WHO study which employed data from sub-Saharan Africa and assumed truly universal screening and treatment with optimal clinical outcomes. "The reality of HIV screening programs, even the best ones, is that many people are never reached for screening, some refuse screening or do not link to care, and many of those who are treated do not maintain viral suppression," notes Kenneth A. Freedberg, MD, MSc, of the MGH Department of Medicine, the report's senior author.
The study finds that a test-and-treat program in Washington, DC, could extend life expectancy of HIV-infected patients – currently projected at about 24 years after diagnosis – another one to two years and could reduce the rate of new infections 15 percent over a five-year period. Survival and prevention impacts would be even greater with improvements in screening, linkage to treatment and retention in care – improvements not yet reflected in the "best cases" reported by any U.S. program. Such optimistic but possibly achievable scenarios could extend survival to 29 years after HIV diagnosis and decrease new infections by as much as 50 percent over five years.
"The benefits of expanded testing to persons with undiagnosed HIV infection are unquestioned," Walensky says. "Earlier detection and linkage to care saves lives; this alone is a reason for test-and-treat. But pinning all our hopes on the latest 'magic bullet,' underestimating the logistical obstacles, and forgetting that prevention requires an integrated package of strategies puts us at risk of falling into a trap we've seen before. Our analysis suggests that test-and-treat will likely be a very important addition to the treatment and prevention armamentarium, but the expectations for its impact should be realistic."
Walensky and Freedberg are both associate professors of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Additional co-authors of the Clinical Infectious Diseases report are Bethany Morris, Callie Scott, MSc, and Erin Rhode, MS, MGH Department of Medicine; A. David Paltiel, PhD, Yale School of Medicine; Elena Losina, PhD, Brigham and Women's Hospital; and George Seage, ScD, Harvard School of Public Health. The study was supported by grants from the NIAID, the National Institute of Mental Health and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Massachusetts General Hospital, established in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $600 million and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, human genetics, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, regenerative medicine, systems biology, transplantation biology and photomedicine.
Sue McGreevey | EurekAlert!
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences