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2005-01-22-US policy shift on Aids drugs use
The US health authorities have recommended that wider use should be made in the US of anti-retroviral drugs to help prevent the spread of Aids.
New guidelines say that people exposed to the Aids virus by rape, drug use or unsafe sex should receive treatment.
The drugs can prevent people becoming infected if it starts within 72 hours of people's exposure to the virus.
The guidelines, developed by the Centers for Disease Control, represent a major policy shift by the US.
Previous recommendations, introduced in 1996, said that only health care workers who might have been exposed to HIV were to receive anti-retroviral drugs.
American doctors described that policy as unconscionable, saying it was ludicrous that the US did not allow rape victims to receive the treatment - something several other countries do allow.
Trials on animals as well as victims of rape have shown that taking a drug combination shortly after possible exposure does prevent infection.
A spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control said the severity of the HIV epidemic in the US - where 40,000 new cases are reported each year - meant that all available tools were needed to reduce transmission rates.
The government will not, however, pay for the drugs to be administered over the 28-day course of treatment.