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Media Statement

For Immediate Release: May 12, 2011
Contact: CDC Online Newsroom
(404) 639-3286

Statement by CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., on Early End of HPTN 052 Study

CDC welcomes the report today from NIH that early HIV treatment can dramatically reduce the risk that an HIV-positive person will transmit the virus to their heterosexual partner. The study, known as HPTN 052, showed that early initiation of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) for HIV-positive people who were heterosexual led to a dramatic reduction in HIV transmission to the HIV-uninfected partner. We are also encouraged by the finding that early as opposed to delayed treatment also showed promise in reducing HIV-associated disease, especially tuberculosis.

These results represent another significant step forward in HIV prevention and reinforce the importance of people everywhere knowing their HIV status and being linked to services for HIV prevention, care and treatment – all of which are key components of CDC HIV prevention strategies. They also remind us of the urgency of ensuring that testing and treatment are widely available, that ARVs are becoming an important component of HIV prevention strategies, and that prevention and treatment for HIV are inseparable.

While today's announcement provides cause for optimism that this approach may help reduce new HIV infections overall in the United States and around the world, the degree of impact at a population level will depend on many factors, including the real-world feasibility of scaling up intensive testing and care services in a broad range of settings, as well as the ability for individuals to maintain high levels of drug adherence over time.

However, HIV-positive people cannot assume they are not infectious simply because they are already on treatment medications. It is critical that individuals maintain close contact with their healthcare providers, in order to monitor viral load, and to maintain consistent treatment and care services over time.

I am proud that CDC participated in this life-saving effort, with our own research center in Kenya serving as one of the 13 trial sites. With NIH, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator and other PEPFAR partners, and WHO, we look forward to exploring the implications of these findings for current programs and future use as part of effective combination prevention strategies.

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH
Director
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

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