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Study examines impact of universal HIV testing, immediate ART program in Washington, DC

February 01, 2016

The study finds that a test-and-treat program in Washington, DC, could extend life expectancy of HIV-infected patients - currently projected at about 24 years after diagnosis - another one to two years and could reduce the rate of new infections 15 percent over a five-year period. Survival and prevention impacts would be even greater with improvements in screening, linkage to treatment and retention in care - improvements not yet reflected in the "best cases" reported by any U.S. program. Such optimistic but possibly achievable scenarios could extend survival to 29 years after HIV diagnosis and decrease new infections by as much as 50 percent over five years.

"The benefits of expanded testing to persons with undiagnosed HIV infection are unquestioned," Walensky says. "Earlier detection and linkage to care saves lives; this alone is a reason for test-and-treat. But pinning all our hopes on the latest 'magic bullet,' underestimating the logistical obstacles, and forgetting that prevention requires an integrated package of strategies puts us at risk of falling into a trap we've seen before. Our analysis suggests that test-and-treat will likely be a very important addition to the treatment and prevention armamentarium, but the expectations for its impact should be realistic."

Source: Massachusetts General Hospital