A new study from Denmark provides some of the clearest evidence yet that ‘treatment as prevention’ can really make a big difference at the population level. There’s already very good evidence that individuals living with HIV can avoid transmitting the virus by taking HIV treatment.
But there are questions about whether HIV treatment can really stop HIV transmission across a population. For example, in the United Kingdom, too many people have HIV without realising it, so HIV continues to be spread, even though most people with diagnosed HIV are receiving HIV treatment.
But in Denmark, people get tested for HIV more often and so individuals tend to be diagnosed quite quickly, with a high CD4 count. Denmark has an efficient system of universal, free healthcare and the uptake of HIV treatment is very high.
The researchers estimate that the rate of new HIV infections in gay men (the main group affected by HIV in the country) is 0.14% per year. In other words, one in 700 gay men acquire HIV each year.
In contrast, incidence in gay men in the UK is four times higher at around 0.6% per year.
The study shows that treatment as prevention can work but that very high rates of early diagnosis, treatment uptake and viral suppression are required.
The full article can be read here.