The United States National Institutes of Health has conducted a study since 2005 at over 13 sites across across Africa, Asia and the America with a sample of 1,763 couples in which one partner was infected by HIV. "HIV-positive patients were split into two groups. In one, individuals were immediately given a course of anti-retroviral drugs.The other group only received the treatment when their white blood cell count fell. Both were given counselling on safe sex practices, free condoms and treatment for sexually transmitted infections." In the group that anti-retroviral therapy was started immediately there was only one case of transmission in contrast to 27 cases of transmission in the other group.
While this is a tremendous breakthrough, it is also an expensive one. Michale Sidibe, executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS), warns it "would cost more than ten billion dollars to provide drugs to the ten million people worldwide who are currently not receiving medication for HIV." While expensive it does give international donors a directed focus and hopefully a renewed commitment to HIV treatment.