Earlier this month, teams of researchers from the University of Washington and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control revealed groundbreaking findings that taking HIV medication orally once as day, as pre-exposure prophylaxis, was highly effective in preventing HIV in heterosexual men and women in Kenya, Uganda, and Botswana.
More than 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV, and almost 70 percent of those infected are in sub-Saharan Africa. HIV not only affects the health of individuals, it impacts households, communities, and the development and economic growth of nations.
However, the number of people receiving HIV treatment in resource-poor countries has increased significantly in the past decade. The key driver of this progress has been the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. The growing evidence that medication can not only save the lives of people living with HIV, but also substantially reduce the risk of infection of others, is great news.
The United States will continue to support critical research, and to prepare for it to be translated into lifesaving programs through PEPFAR. The U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Eric Goosby, commented that "Nearly a decade after the creation of PEPFAR and the Global Fund helped begin to restore hope to hard-hit nations, these new research achievements are bringing a second wave of hope to communities impacted by AIDS. They are creating a mood of optimism and promise." U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah noted that the next step in the global effort to combat the disease "is to determine how the teams’ research can be put to use in a real world setting."
In combination with escalating global treatment efforts, novel approaches to prevention – such as those based on HIV medications -- offer promising new strategies to win the global fight against HIV/AIDS.