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WHO ‘Treatment as Prevention’ guidelines are unlikely to decrease HIV transmission in the UK unless undiagnosed HIV infections are reduced

Brown, Alison E.; Nardone, Anthony; Delpech, Valerie C.

doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000137
Research Letters

The WHO guidelines recommend antiretroviral therapy (ART) begins when CD4+ cell counts reach less than 500 cells to reduce HIV transmission. In the UK, 96 000 people were living with HIV (PLWHIV) in 2011, ART coverage was 84% among the diagnosed population and 42% of PLWHIV had detectable viraemia. Using published methods, we estimate starting ART at below 500 CD4+ cells could have reduced the proportion of PLWHIV with detectable viraemia from 42% to 38%, whereas halving the undiagnosed population could have led to a decrease to 28%. In the UK, it is unlikely early treatment will reduce HIV transmission unless the undiagnosed population is substantially reduced.

HIV/STI Department, Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance and Control, Health Protection Directorate, Public Health England, London, UK.

Correspondence to Alison E. Brown, PhD, HIV and STI Department, Health Protection Services, Public Health England, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK. Tel: +44 208 327 7559; e-mail:

Received 23 August, 2013

Revised 01 November, 2013

Accepted 01 November, 2013

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.