Aug 12, 2015 10:34 PM EDT

Methadone Reduces Risk Of Spreading HIV; Regular Testing & Early Treatment Can Eradicate The Disease By 2030?

By Alex Cruz

The announcement during the AIDS conference in Vancouver last month may not be new to everybody. Despite the lack of proof, many believed that early treatment for HIV is better compared to a delayed one.

Today, the proof is within everybody's grasp — annual checkup and early treatment — according to The Guardian. What's even better is, a recent research study suggests that Methadone, the drug that prevents withdrawal from opioids like heroin, can reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

An estimated 19 million people, globally, or say more than half of those people living with HIV don't even realize they have it because they have never been tested. On the other hand, those individuals who need a repeat test are not being tested thoroughly.

The current guidelines, according to World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health, stated that whoever tests positive needs to wait for his CD4 cell count to drop below 500 for an Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to start. However, scientists led by Peter Mugyenyi, head of the Joint Clinical Research Center, say otherwise.

"There is no need to have CD4 cell count tests. If you test somebody and he is HIV positive that day, they must be started on treatment because the benefits are immense," according to the professor.

The immediate initiation of ART, according to Professor Mugyenyi, prevents the patient from developing disease complications like Cancer and Pneumonia, All Africa has learned.

Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye from The Minister of Health stated that under the current guidelines, only children, Hepa B patients, truck drivers, sex workers and members of the fishing communities are the only exception for the 500 CD4 count cutoff.

While patients now have the access to the treatment pills in government facilities, a new discovery was made in Vancouver. Researchers found out that injection drug users who were not prescribed with methadone were at risk almost four times to acquire the disease.

The study was published in The Lancet HIV, Global News Canada reported. Between 1996 and 2013, the researchers followed 1,639 HIV-negative injection drug users and found that over 138 people infected with the condition, over that time, who were not taking methadone.

Dr. Keith Ahamad, with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, said that HIV infections are rising in areas where methadone treatment is illegal or only prescribed in specialized clinics.

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