New antiretroviral drugs are promising an end to HIV transmission after five years of their use, according to professor of epidemiology at the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis in Stellenbosch, Brian Williams.
Scientists throughout the world are reconsidering the approach to fighting the global AIDS epidemic, saying that everyone with HIV and AIDS would be put on a lifetime plan of drugs if they test positive. This course of action is predicted to completely stop the transmission of the virus that causes AIDS within the next 40 years.
“Over the past 25 years we have saved the lives of probably two to three million people using antiretroviral drugs, but almost nothing we have done has had any impact on transmission of the disease,” Professor Williams said. “We have stopped people dying but we haven’t stopped the epidemic.”
But how much it would cost to provide a lifetime supply of drugs to 30 million people affected with HIV worldwide? Although scientists estimate 3 billion will be spent in South Africa alone, they feel this number and the consideration of the impact on society with two million people dying annually, outweighs the near 30 billion spent on AIDS research each year.
“If you factor in all of the costs, in my opinion, doing this would be cost saving from day one, because the cost of the drugs would be more than balanced by the cost of treating people for all of these other diseases and then letting them die,” Williams said.
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