Study Yields Breakthrough in AIDS Treatment
Taking antiretroviral drugs early slashes risk of spreading disease
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2011 2:00 PM CDT
Boxes of antiretroviral medicines sit on the desk in the room of an Indonesian doctor as she consults with a HIV positive patient at a clinic in Denpasar, Bali, on December 10, 2010.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – AIDS patients who get treated early with antiretroviral drugs are as much as 96% less likely to pass on the disease to their sexual partners, according to a major new study. An independent review board found the results so persuasive they recommended the findings be released four years ahead of the study’s scheduled end, the Wall Street Journal reports. The breakthrough suggests AIDS patients should be put on the drugs ASAP.

Researchers followed 1,763 couples in which one partner had HIV and the other did not. Half were given the drugs immediately, the others later in the course of their disease, as is the standard practice in many countries. All were also given condoms and counseled on how to prevent transmission. Among those given the drugs immediately, only one partner passed on the disease; in the other group, 27 did. (Click to read about another sign of progress with a monkey vaccine.)