What is the best approach for treating HIV?

WHO say HIV and AIDS in South Africa can be eliminated, but computer says "No".

The World Health Organisation claim that by treating all 5 million people in South Africa who are positive for HIV, regardless of whether they have symptoms, would eradicate the disease within 10 years.  However, the Center for Biomedical Modelling at UCLA say that the prediction is fatally flawed as it does not take drug resistance into consideration.

There are fundamentally two types of approach. These are:

1. 'Test and treat' all 5 million people - as advocated by the WHO

2. Treat only the 1.6 million people who are showing the symptoms.

Sally Blower, Director of the UCLA Centre that use sophisticated mathematical modelling to evaluate outcomes, says; ""By developing our own mathematical model and re-evaluating the WHO's proposed strategy for South Africa, we found the WHO's predictions are wrong," They point out that the WHO model is unrealistic, and so "if you use an unrealistic model, you get the wrong answer."

It seems that the fatal flaw in the WHO approach is that over a forty year period it does not take in to account the fact that the treatment strategy would effectively lead to several million more people developing more serious drug resistant strains of HIV. UCLA agree that commencing early treatment is also a method of disease prevention, but the benefits would be outweighed by the additional risk.

The UCLA Centre recommends that before implementing a 'test and treat' strategy and potentially making matters worse, the WHO should stop and think. A more effective approach is to try to provide treatment for all those in need as quickly as possible. They say, "If we could provide treatment to the 1.6 million people in need, it would increase their life expectancy by several decades and also save millions of lives. And this is a strategy that can be implemented immediately."

Source: Science Daily

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, a deficiency of the immune system due to infection with HIV. Full medical glossary
One of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. Full medical glossary
The abbreviation for human immunodeficiency virus, which is the cause of AIDS. Full medical glossary
The ability of a microbe, such as a type of bacteria, to resist the effects of antibiotics or other drugs. Full medical glossary
A microbe, such as a type of bacteria, that is able to resist the effects of antibiotics or other drugs. Full medical glossary