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Medical News & Perspectives
July 20, 2011

AIDS Drug Programs Tighten Belts Even as Medications Are Shown to Curb Contagion

JAMA. 2011;306(3):253-255. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.979

The troubled economy is creating funding shortfalls for AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs), even as financial difficulties increase the need for help among some of the low-income HIV/AIDS patients who rely on these programs to supply their medication.

Meanwhile, the need for such programs continues to intensify in the wake of a recent large-scale international study that demonstrated the effectiveness of oral antiretroviral drugs in safeguarding the uninfected sexual partners of individuals with HIV infection. The trial showed protective benefits when these drugs were taken by HIV-positive persons with an immune system that was still relatively uncompromised (the immediate-treatment group). Data from this randomized controlled trial from the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) were released in May, earlier than the scheduled 2015 completion date for the study, because of the markedly positive results. The ongoing trial (HPTN 052) is now being modified to offer antiretroviral therapy to all HIV-infected study participants in the deferred-treatment group, according to Myron S. Cohen, MD, chair of the study and director of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.