A ten-year study into the impact of HIV ‘treatment as prevention’ has found that a 27 per cent increase in people accessing effective HIV treatment saw HIV infections decrease by 66 per cent between 2010 to 2019, in NSW and Victoria.
The findings, published today in Lancet HIV, show the success of HIV treatment as prevention in reducing new HIV infections, especially when complemented by the availability of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and increased access to diagnostic testing.
Treatment as prevention – or TasP – is a global public health strategy that is built on the evidence that HIV treatment results in virally suppressing the HIV virus, which effectively reduces an individual’s risk of transmitting HIV to zero. While there is strong evidence from clinical trials to support TasP’s effectiveness, Kirby Institute and Burnet Institute researchers are the first to analyse the impact of this strategy on overall HIV infections at a population level.
said Dr Denton Callander, who led the research at UNSW’s Kirby Institute.
“Our research shows that investing in HIV testing is crucial for HIV elimination,”
said Dr Callander.
During the course of the study, a range of other HIV prevention strategies were rolled out in NSW and Victoria, including the introduction of PrEP – a pill that prevents HIV negative people from acquiring HIV.
says Dr Callander.
Over the past decade, governments, clinics and community-based organisations in NSW and Victoria have worked to remove antiretroviral prescribing restrictions, enabled community pharmacy dispensing, reduced patient treatment costs, and educated those at risk of HIV about the individual and prevention benefits of early and sustained treatment.
says Professor Mark Stoové from the Burnet Institute, who is co-senior author on the paper.
Jane Costello, CEO of Positive Life NSW, welcomes the research findings around the benefits of early and effective treatment and other strategies for positive communities, and the contribution this will make to the overall Australian HIV response.