HIV treatment as prevention: #HIVchat on Twitter

Experts from WHO/Europe and the European AIDS Treatment Group will answer your questions on the strategic use of antiretrovirals, including to prevent HIV infections, during a live Twitter chat on Wednesday 19 December 2012, at 14:00–15:00 UTC/GMT (15:00–16:00 CET, Copenhagen time).

The chat will be hosted by Irina Eramova and Smiljka de Lussigny from the HIV/AIDS, STIs and Viral Hepatitis programme at WHO/Europe and Anna Zakowicz from the European AIDS Treatment Group.

Topics under discussion

  • HIV treatment works. The evidence that antiretroviral therapy prevents AIDS and saves lives
  • Treatment as a part of prevention. What are the concept and guiding principles?
  • What do we know? The evidence behind the concept of treatment as prevention
  • Who, when, where, how? Operational and programmatic considerations

#HIVchat: how to send questions

Send your questions in the form of tweets to @WHO_Europe, using the hashtag #HIVchat.

If you are unable to join the live chat, do leave questions for the experts on our Facebook page: WHO/Europe on Facebook

Treatment as prevention

Treatment with antiretrovirals (ARVs) suppresses the HIV virus and stops the progression of disease. Huge reductions have been seen in rates of death and suffering when a potent ARV regimen is used, particularly in the early stages of the disease.

ARVs are also used very successfully to prevent HIV transmission from pregnant women to their babies. The timely use of effective ARV combinations in the mother and the infant reduces the risk of transmission from mother to child to under 2%.

Research published in 2011 shows that the heterosexual transmission of HIV can be reduced by 96% if people with the virus are treated earlier.

Treatment as prevention (or TasP) is a term used to describe HIV prevention methods that use ARV treatment in HIV-positive people to decrease the chance of HIV transmission, independent of CD4 count cells.

In couples where only one has the virus, WHO recommends offering ARV therapy to the HIV-positive partner, regardless of the strength of his or her immune system, to reduce the likelihood of HIV transmission to the uninfected partner.

Programmatic and operational considerations still remain, many of them described in the programmatic update on ARV treatment as prevention of HIV and TB, released by WHO headquarters in June 2012. The Twitter chat aims to cover these issues and provide a space for raising and addressing the remaining concerns in the community.