January 31, 2012
Julie Patterson, director of capacity building for the AIDS Task Force of Greater Cleveland and an AVAC PxROAR member provided unprecedented HIV/AIDS testimony and education to the Ohio House of Representatives Committee on Health and Aging. She was invited by the Republican Caucus of the House of Representatives. The event, which took place the week after World AIDS Day, allowed Patterson to review HIV disease, prevention, treatment and testing and to provide information on recent breakthroughs in biomedical HIV prevention research, including the HPTN 052 trial which found a significant reduction in transmission within HIV-serodiscordant couples when treatment was initiated earlier (350-550 CD4 cells) versus in accordance to national guidelines. Although the vast majority of HPTN 052 participants came from outside of the US, the trial is of great relevance for the domestic US epidemic, where “treatment as prevention” could be a potent part of a combination prevention package, supported by additional US funds (see first item.) Patterson explained that earlier treatment for HIV positive people is cost-saving, and urged legislators to support expanded ART programs with the goal of optimizing the health and prevention benefits of ART—and saving costs over the long term. For more on HPTN 052, read Patterson’s piece in Ohio’s weekly Gay People’s Chronicle entitled “Treatment as prevention, turning the tide in the AIDS epidemic”.