The rate of new HIV infections has been cut in half thanks to the introduction of antiretroviral therapy, Vancouver AIDS researchers have found.

In a study made public yesterday, researchers found that new HIV cases in British Columbia have dropped by more than 50 per cent since the drug cocktail known as HAART started being administered in 1996.

Researchers used provincial health records from 1996 to 2009 to determine how many people were prescribed the drugs and how many new HIV cases were diagnosed during that period.

“The more people you have on treatment, the less people become infected,” said principal investigator Dr. Julio Montaner.

HAART, or highly active antiretroviral therapy, is a treatment of three drugs taken daily that reduces the amount of HIV virus in bodily fluids, extending life expectancy.

The drop in new cases is driven largely by people with a history of IV drug use.

With files from The Canadian Press

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