Leading article: New ways to fight Aids

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The Independent Online

For more than a quarter of a century, scientists have been battling the spread of Aids in vain, searching for a vaccine or cure, coupled with changes to sexual lifestyles. Each time hope has foundered on the virus's astonishing ability to mutate while the impact of campaigns in favour of sexual continence or greater use of condoms has been limited. Now, as we report, a South African scientist is urging a new approach – mass screening and the treatment of all those infected with HIV with anti-retroviral drugs. Brian Williams' plan sounds almost too simple. In brief, anti-retrovirals drastically reduce the presence of the virus in the body, making it unlikely that somone taking the drugs will infect someone else. Get everyone tested in high-risk regions and put on the drugs if need be, and within years the virus could be contained.

Needless to say there are some hefty what-ifs to this theory, apart from the cost, but given the failure of earlier approaches it is worth testing.

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