In the HIV/AIDS arena, theÂ idea of “treatment as prevention” has been gaining strength. Multiple studies have shown that treatment with anti-retroviral drugs can dramatically reduceÂ the likelihood that someone infected with HIV will be able to pass the virus to someone else.
However, a recentÂ strategy documentÂ for HIV/AIDS prevention developed byÂ aÂ International Antiviral Societyâ€“USAÂ panel, co-led by Rollins Global Health chair Carlos Del Rio, puts biomedical interventions hand in hand with psychosocial measures such as couples counseling and treatment for drug dependence.
Why? Because people everywhere can have trouble sticking to antiretroviralÂ treatment, even if drugs are available. And couples counseling by itself is valuable.
A powerful example of how this plays out, and of the importance of couples counseling to the effectiveness of antiretroviral drugs in prevention, comes fromÂ a recent presentation fromÂ Emory epidemiologist Kristin Wall at the AIDS 2014 meeting in Australia. The website NAM AidsmapÂ had a helpful write-up of her presentation, which isÂ available here.Â Thanks to co-author Susan Allen for alerting us to this.
CVCT (couples voluntary counseling and treatment) greatly enhanced the preventive effect of antiretroviral treatment, when compared to treatment without counselling, Wall’sÂ analysis of a large cohort of couplesÂ in Zambia showed.Â
Update: Allen points out that couples counselingÂ by itselfÂ was effective in helping people avoid HIV, with a 75 percent reduction in incidence for couples where the HIV+ partner was not receiving antiviral therapy or with HIV negative couples.Â Read more