August/September 2011 

HPTN 052: The trial that changed everything

There are several memorable moments in the history of the HIV pandemic. The 1996 International AIDS Conference with its dramatic news about the lifesaving effects of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) was one of those moments. The recent International AIDS Society’s congress in Rome in the summer of 2011 will likely be looked back upon as another one of those moments, particularly for the field of HIV prevention. It was at the Rome conference that the results of trial HPTN 052 were released. That trial showed that in serodiscordant couples—where one partner is HIV-positive and the other negative—potent combination therapy for HIV (increasingly called ART instead of HAART nowadays) can significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission between heterosexual couples. The results of trial 052 were beyond what its study team had anticipated. With no effective vaccine against HIV on the horizon, and the virus continuing to spread, the good news from trial 052 was embraced by attendees.

In this issue of TreatmentUpdate, we take an in-depth look at trial 052 and its results. Importantly, we also look beyond the trial results and assess what impact they might have on the real world, outside of a carefully controlled clinical trial.

—Sean R. Hosein