The same antiretroviral drugs that treat HIV and AIDS can also be used to cut down the risk of contracting HIV in the first place, two new studies show. The dramatic results are just the latest evidence that AIDS drugs can be effective at prevention as well as treatment. While previous research has shown antiretroviral drugs to be effective for specific groups, the new studies, carried out in Kenya, Uganda, and Botswana, show that they are also effective in the general heterosexual population.
In one study, which ended early because results were so startling, antiretroviral drugs reduced the risk of contraction by 62% to 73%. The other showed a 63% decrease. Taking the drugs daily is important: A previous experiment, in which many doses were skipped, was less effective. About 6.6 million infected people in the developing world are taking antiretroviral drugs, but this news will likely spur efforts to provide more drugs to those not yet infected, the Washington Post reports. Click for more on four AIDS drugs that will join the Medicines Patent Pool.