Frequently asked questions aout HIV AIDS


After decades of research, scientists still have not found a cure or vaccine for HIV. What evidence do you have that the test-and-treat strategy will work?
The most optimistic projections suggest that we are at least 10 years away from developing an effective vaccine or a cure for HIV. While male circumcision reduces female-to-male transmission by about 60 percent and a recently developed vaginal microbicide reduces male-to-female transmission by up to 54 percent, neither of these is sufficient to halt transmission. The most significant support for test-and-treat comes from the NIH’s HPTN 052 study, which found that antiretroviral therapy was 96 percent effective in stopping HIV transmissions.

Is HIV testing mandatory?
No, testing is voluntary. However, full and committed involvement of the community is essential for the test-and-treat strategy to work. Understandably, people are afraid of being infected, afraid of people knowing that they are infected, and afraid of being stigmatized and abused. But by being open, by treating the infection like any other infection, by acknowledging the scale of the problem and by educating people about the new drugs to keep people healthy and to render them noninfectious, we may eliminate fear and minimize stigma and discrimination. Admittedly, full participation will be difficult to attain, and some people may not be fully compliant so that the effective reduction in transmission will be less than 100 percent. Our preliminary work suggests that a realistic expectation would be to achieve a greater than 70 percent reduction in HIV transmission. That result is still better than any other proven intervention method.

Why would people who test positive for HIV want to start taking drugs immediately?
The test-and-treat strategy will not only dramatically reduce the chances that an infected person will transmit HIV to others but it will improve an individual’s prognosis. Of note, current treatment guidelines from the International AIDS Society – USA Panel do recommend treatment to be started much earlier than the World Health Organization guidelines. It is important to understand, however, that no one will be forced to start taking drugs — it will be an individual choice.

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