Steve Connor: The drugs are expensive. The cost of not using them is higher

Share
Related Topics

It is nearly 30 years since the discovery of the Aids virus and a vaccine seems as far away as ever. In its absence, education and condoms were considered the only viable way of preventing the spread of HIV.

And yet, each year, some 2.7 million more people are infected with HIV. Far from being quelled, the Aids epidemic is growing, particularly in Southern Africa where a pernicious strain of the virus leads to "hypertransmitters".

Scientists are increasingly turning to antiretroviral drugs – the one great success story of Aids research – as a prophylactic against the spread of HIV. The Harvard study at Mochudi in Botswana tries to target HIV-carriers in the "acute" phase of the infection, when they have high levels of virus in their bloodstream.

Another study, involving the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis, is proposing to give antiretroviral drugs to all HIV-positive men and women to prevent or lower the risk of viral transmission.

Researchers say anti-retrovirals decrease the concentration of the virus in the body by 10,000 times, which probably translates into a 25-fold reduction in infectiousness. Some scientists believe that if everyone with HIV in Africa took antiretrovirals, the epidemic could be gone within a generation, because each infected person would infect on average less than one other person, instead of the additional five or six infected at present.

The cost, estimated to be £2.5bn a year for South Africa alone, may appear high. But the cost of not doing it, and having to deal with an ever-growing number of Aids cases, could turn out to be a lot greater, financially and in human misery.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C++, Ruby/ Perl) - £40k

£40000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C+...

Recruitment Genius: IT Systems Manager

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Systems Manager ...

Recruitment Genius: Rockstar Sales Executive - OTE £65,000

£25000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, VC-funded star...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: sculpture, silly jokes and a guide to solving all engineering problems

John Rentoul
Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in August  

Ferguson: Sad truth is that Michael Brown was killed because he was a black man

Bonnie Greer
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital