AIDS 2018: Opioid medication treatment, outreach to sex workers rank among most cost effective HIV interventions, researchers say

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Science Speaks is covering the 22nd International AIDS Conference this week live from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with breaking news, updates and analysis of new research findings, evidence-based responses, and community action for global access to HIV treatment and prevention.

AMSTERDAM – Investments in opioid medication treatment, outreach to sex workers, medical circumcision and condom promotion are the most cost-effective prevention interventions in the global HIV response, but lack adequate funding and should be scaled up to achieve prevention targets, researchers said here today. Their study also found that antiretroviral therapy was a highly cost effective measure for preventing new infections and is the most cost-effective intervention for averting death and disability.

Researchers examined how and where 13 HIV interventions are carried in 55 Global Fund-recipient countries. They found that while resources are already targeted appropriately, more focused resource allocation could improve cost effectiveness by up to 25 percent, John Stover from Avenir Health said.

He added that while a few yet to be optimized service delivery efficiencies remain, finding further efficiencies won’t make up for the gap of $6 billion that’s needed to reach global goals of finding 90 percent of people living with HIV, ensuring 90 percent of those have access to treatment, and keeping treatment consistently effective enough for 90 percent of them to prevent transmission and illness.

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has been able to scale up treatment access despite flat funding due to increased efficiencies, Maureen Milanga, of HealthGAP said. But, “scaling up is coming to an end because almost all efficiencies have been reached,” she said. Failing to continue scaling up treatment access and other essential services leave millions without access to  services they need to survive and prevent transmission, she said.

In addition, Deepak Matur from UNAIDS said, if testing, treatment and viral load suppression goals aren’t met in the next five years, more than two million more people will become infected with HIV, while one million more people will die from HIV-related complications.

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