One of the documentary features up for an Academy Award this year is How to Survive a Plague, which details the early fight against the AIDS epidemic by public health activists. The film documents the struggle of two groups, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power and the Treatment Action Group, in their fight to convince research institutions and pharmaceutical companies to fast-track the development life-saving antiretroviral drugs.
Fast forward to the present day and the success of these groups is clear. While there is still no cure for HIV, it is no longer a death sentence– at least in the Western world. Meanwhile in the developing world, public health officials have labored over the effectiveness of campaigns involving condoms, abstinence, or even male circumcision.
But a recent study in Science covered by NPR explains that the best method of prevention is drug treatment. The study showed that HIV transmission rates are much lower in communities where HIV-positive patients have access to antiretroviral drugs and therefore are able to drive the virus down to undetectable levels.
In the following clip, HIV research David Cooper discusses how prevention has not been an effective strategy in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the developing world.