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For partners of people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, antiretroviral drugs may provide a shield against infections. A study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation showed that taking the drugs, which are normally used to treat people who are HIV positive, can reduce infection rates.
Protection from HIV infections
The study, originally published in PLoS Medicine, followed 1,100 HIV-negative people in Uganda who had HIV-positive partners. Participants received pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs as well as counseling to maintain their drug regimen. After 11 months, only 14 percent of partners had been infected with the sexually transmitted disease, according to STD testing.
Researchers believe that this study differed from similar past ones, which showed altering levels of protection from HIV infections, because it better tracked participants' use of the drugs. Approximately 97 to 99 percent of participants kept to their drug regimens as found by lab tests.
"Proper support and assessment of adherence will be critical for determining efficacy of [pre-exposure prophylaxis] outside of clinical trials. This data will be important for guiding ethical decisions about resource allocation for both prevention and treatment of HIV," wrote the authors of the study.
HIV/AIDS in America
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that over 1 million Americans currently have HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, which HIV progresses to if untreated. Nearly 20 percent of those infected are unaware that they have the infection at all, according to the agency.
In 2011, nearly 50,000 people were diagnosed with HIV, while more than 30,000 were diagnosed with AIDS. Proper use of condoms and other safe sex practices can reduce the risks. While the study above is only in clinical stages, it provides hope that more infections can be prevented through the use of antiretroviral drugs and other measures.
For those seeking a discreet means of finding out their HIV/AIDS status as well as other common STDs, like chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, a lab test online may be the answer. An STD test can be taken outside of a doctor's office or clinical setting, allowing for treatment to begin for any STDs.
Many common diseases can be treated through the use of antibiotics and are not life-threatening if treated quickly. For HIV, treatment can lead to longer life spans that are more functional.
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