AIDS that kills 2.1 million people every year globally can be contained within just five years by testing everybody in high-risk regions and providing immediate treatment for those found to be HIV positive, a leading scientist has claimed.
According to Dr Brian Williams of the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (Sacema), once the testing is done, an aggressive treatment programme would not only save millions of lives but would also prevent transmission of HIV that affects over 33 million people worldwide annually.
But, Dr Williams said, the universal therapy with anti-retroviral drugs could prove to be the most promising way of controlling a disease. It also has the potential to halve tuberculosis infections associated with HIV and AIDS.
"It would be enough to stop transmission and make most people effectively not infectious to others," Dr Williams, a former WHO epidemiologist who still advises the United Nations body, was quoted as saying by the Sunday Times.
"The question is can we use anti-retroviral drugs not only to keep people alive but also to stop transmission? I believe that we can," Dr Williams said.
"I believe that if we use them effectively we could stop transmission within five years.
"Treating people with ART within one year of becoming infected would reduce transmission by about ten times, each person with HIV would infect, on average, less than one other person, and the epidemic would die out."