Breakthrough study finds HIV drugs can stop the transmission of the virus

Grant Boone
May 5, 2019

After all this researches and analyses on the gay couples in which one male partner has HIV, and the other one doesn't, has proven that sex life can exist without the risk of sexual transmission.

Among the participating couples, antiviral therapy was found to be so protective that it was estimated to have prevented about 470 HIV infections, even though condoms were never used. The couples were studies over a period of eight years, from 2010-2017. However, researchers remained cautious.

"Our findings provide conclusive evidence for gay men that the risk of HIV transmission with suppressive ART is zero", said Alison Rodger, from University College London, who co-lead the research.

The principle, summed up by the motto "U = U" (for "undetectable equals untransmittable"), has been promoted for several years by organizations fighting against AIDS.

"Diagnosis of HIV infection is hard in the early stages of infection when transmission is very efficient, and this limitation also compromises the treatment as prevention strategy", he added. This is, of course, theoretical and would require that all HIV-positive people globally having access to testing and effective treatment.

In each case one partner had HIV and was taking anti-retroviral pills, and one was free of the virus.

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The findings support the global U=U (undetectable equals untransmittable) campaign, which has argued that effective ART means people with the virus can have sex without the fear of transmitting it to partners.

According to the researchers, the study validates the claim that once HIV is suppressed with antiretroviral drugs, gay patients can have sex without infecting their partners.

The study found that there were no new transmissions of the disease to the HIV negative partner during sex. "If we don't reduce late diagnosis, there will always be those who are not aware of their HIV status and who therefore can not access treatment", National AIDS Trust chief executive Deborah Gold said.

She said people at high risk of HIV must get tested, and receive antiretroviral (ARV) therapy soon to prevent HIV transmission. "We think this is vital to addressing stigma". Just 5 percent of men with the virus reported missing ART for four days or more.

Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director at Terrence Higgins Trust and National NHS Adviser for LGBT Health said it was "impossible to overstate the importance of the findings".

An effective antiretroviral treatment has proven to prevent the transmission of the aids virus in all-male couples - where one partner is HIV positive - who have unprotected sex, a study published on Thursday shows.

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