There are now 33 million people living with HIV, including 2 million children. About 2.7 million people became newly infected with the virus each year. Combating this epidemic is one of the top priorities facing public health workers around the world.
With limited resources, what strategy should be pursued? As of now, a vaccine for AIDS is years away from viability. So should resources go towards improving the health of those with AIDS or should funds be used to reduce the incidence of the disease?
The Economist (“The ideal and the good“) reports on the efforts of Dr. Reuben Granich to treat patients and reduce incidence using the same drugs. Dr. Granich finds that although first-line antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) do not offer a cure, they are cheap, reduce the symptoms of HIV and reduce the level of the virus in the person to the point where they are unlikely to pass on the virus. Second-line treatments can be used for the 3% of individuals who do not respond to first-line ARVs. “Employing the logic of vaccination using proven drugs may be an idea whose time has come.”
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