Title: High coverage of ART associated with decline in risk of HIV acquisition in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Authors: Tanser F, Barnighausen T, Grapsa E, Zaidi J, Newell M-L..
Journal: Science,339(6122):966-971 (2013)
The landmark HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 trial in HIV-discordant couples demonstrated unequivocally that treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART) substantially lowers the probability of HIV transmission to the HIV-uninfected partner. However, it has been vigorously debated whether substantial population-level reductions in the rate of new HIV infections could be achieved in "real-world" sub-Saharan African settings where stable, cohabiting couples are often not the norm and where considerable operational challenges exist to the successful and sustainable delivery of treatment and care to large numbers of patients.
We used data from one of Africa's largest population-based prospective cohort studies (in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) to follow up a total of 16,667 individuals who were HIV-uninfected at baseline, observing individual HIV seroconversions over the period 2004 to 2011. Holding other key HIV risk factors constant, individual HIV acquisition risk declined significantly with increasing ART coverage in the surrounding local community. For example, an HIV-uninfected individual living in a community with high ART coverage (30 to 40% of all HIV-infected individuals on ART) was 38% less likely to acquire HIV than someone living in a community where ART coverage was low (<10% of all HIV-infected individuals on ART).