Highly active antiretroviral treatment as prevention of HIV transmission: review of scientific evidence and update

Curr Opin HIV AIDS. 2010 Jul;5(4):298-304. doi: 10.1097/COH.0b013e32833a6c32.


Purpose of review: An estimated 33 million people are living with HIV and universal access remains a dream for millions of people. By the end of year 2008, four million people were on treatment; however, over five million needed treatment, and in 2007, there were 2.7 million new infections. Without significant improvement in prevention, we are unlikely to meet universal access targets including the growing demand for highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART). This review examines HAART as a potential tool for preventing HIV transmission.

Recent findings: We discuss recent scientific evidence regarding the treatment and prevention gap, importance viral load and HIV transmission, HAART and HIV transmission, when to start, HIV counseling and testing, modeling results and next steps.

Summary: HAART has considerable treatment and prevention benefits and it needs to be considered as a key element of combination prevention. To explore HAART as an effective prevention strategy, we recommend further evaluation of human rights and ethical considerations, clarification of research priorities and exploration of feasibility and acceptability issues.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active / methods*
  • Chemoprevention / methods
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • Humans
  • Time Factors
  • Viral Load


  • Anti-HIV Agents