SAN FRANCISCO: Study Says Antivirals, Safe Sex Could Save Thousands of Lives in Gay Community
A study published today in the journal Science indicates that anti-HIV drugs could result in a one-third drop in AIDS deaths and 40% fewer new infections among the gay population in San Francisco over the next decade. This "most optimistic scenario," however, assumes that the city's gay community "keeps its collective guard up" by avoiding high-risk sexual behavior -- and that widespread use of antivirals does not result in more drug-resistant strains of HIV, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The study's predictions depend heavily on these two variables. "It's a complicated picture, but the bottom line is we really could make things a lot better with these antiviral medicines," Sally Blower, a University of California-San Francisco epidemiologist, said. Blower and her colleagues created a mathematical model to determine how the drugs might change the course of the AIDS epidemic in the city's gay community. According to the study, even the worst-case scenario -- a doubling of unsafe sex practices and a significant increase in the number of new drug-resistant HIV cases -- evens out after 10 years. "Five years into the future, you've made things worse" under this scenario, but "after 10 years you balance things out," Blower said. She added, "Even small changes in risk behavior will reduce the benefits in the short run" (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.