Published: Sun, May 05, 2019
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

AIDS drugs prevent sexual transmission of HIV in gay men

AIDS drugs prevent sexual transmission of HIV in gay men

Across three different studies, including thousands of couples and many thousand acts of intimacy without a condom or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), no HIV transmissions to an HIV-negative partner were observed when the HIV-positive person was virally suppressed. "This very much puts this issue to bed".

According to Professor Alison Rodger of the University College London, who co-lead the paper, the results were "brilliant - fantastic". The "undetectable=untransmittable" concept, shorthanded as "U=U", is relatively young campaign launched in 2016 to try to help explain that medical suppression of HIV so that its viral levels don't show up in blood tests means that it can not be transmitted to other people.

"This powerful message can help end the HIV pandemic by preventing HIV transmission, and tackling the stigma and discrimination that many people with HIV face", she added. Furthermore, only about half of the people with HIV in the United States have been receiving enough medical treatment to reduce the virus to the point that it would be considered "undetectable". In other words, people did contract HIV, but only from partners who had not taken the antiretroviral treatment.

Its findings add to an earlier phase of the study which looked at HIV transmission risk for serodifferent heterosexual couples in the same circumstances.

For GBT+ men, HIV and AIDS have been one of the many barriers to acceptance, largely in part to the 1980s epidemic. HIV screenings and behavior surveys were conducted throughout the study, along with genetic testing to definitively link any newly identified HIV infection to its source. However, officials later determined through DNA testing that 15 of the initially HIV-negative participants did test positive for the virus, but that they'd contracted it from a third party who was not on ART.

"We have now provided the conclusive scientific evidence for how treatment effectively prevents further sexual transmission of HIV". Nearly half of them, 35.4 million, have died of AIDS.

But none of the screened viruses in the newly infected partner was genetically linked to the virus that infected their main partners.

The treatment regime is normally through the combination of antiretroviral drugs selected to maximally suppress the HIV virus and also to slowdown or stop the progression of HIV disease.

He said the research drives home an important message: "ART leads to good health". In addition, the annual number of AIDS-related deaths is falling, but the number of new infections is stagnant in some areas and increasing in others.

"The results of the PARTNER2 study provide yet one more catalyst for a universal test-and-treat strategy to provide the full benefits of antiretroviral drugs. This and other strategies continue to push us toward the end of Aids".

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