Earlier this week, we published a video of Dr Myron Cohen talking about his research study that showed how ARVs can prevent the spread of HIV in couples. Science magazine went as far as to call it the ‘Breakthrough of the Year,’ and there is no question that the trial was one of the most discussed in 2011. However, some have raised concerns about the trial design, the results and what this means for future HIV treatment.
A reader pointed out that USAID’s Dr. James D Shelton wrote an article that appeared in the very same edition of Science Magazine raising questions about the study. He questions if patients will be able to adhere to the protocols of the medication or if drug resistance will develop.
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For ARVs as prevention to have a substantial impact, very large numbers of those persons testing positive—most symptom-free—would need to take them voluntarily and consistently for a lifetime. Even now, adherence is far from perfect, and some patients discontinue for a variety of reasons, including drug side effects ( 10).