Botswana appears to have achieved very high rates of HIV diagnosis, treatment, and viral suppression—better than most Western nations, including the United States—according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and colleagues in Botswana. The findings suggest that even in countries with limited resources where a large percentage of the population is infected with HIV, strong treatment programs can help make significant headway against the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The study was published online March 23 in The Lancet HIV.
“By now, we hoped to have an HIV vaccine. That hasn’t happened. Ironically, treatment of HIV-infected persons may be our most effective, efficient way to prevent new infections. These results show that Botswana has made great progress in reducing the number of people who are infectious to others,” said Max Essex, Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences, chair of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health AIDS Initiative, and chair of the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership.
Global HIV programs have continued to face challenges in achieving the high rates of testing and treatment needed to optimize health and reduce new infections. Mounting evidence suggests that providing antiretroviral treatment (ART) to all people living with HIV, regardless of the stage of their disease, can help.