Published: Wed, May 08, 2019
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

HIV drugs stop sexual transmission of AIDS virus, say doctors

HIV drugs stop sexual transmission of AIDS virus, say doctors

A European study of almost 1,000 gay male couples who had sex without condoms - where one partner had HIV and was taking antiretroviral drugs to suppress it - has found the treatment can prevent sexual transmission of the virus.

And the researchers say that around 472 cases of HIV are likely to have been prevented. "Our discoveries give decisive proof to gay men that the danger of HIV transmission with suppressive ART is zero", Alison Rodger, the examination's co-specialist and a teacher at the University College London, said in an official statement. For the study, approximately 780 gay couples from 14 European countries, each with an HIV-infected Partner were accompanied in the Mediterranean for two years. The couples reported unprotected sex for a median of one year.

The study's findings also match similar findings of an earlier phase of the study looking at HIV transmission risk for serodiscordant heterosexual couples. This study nows shows that antiretroviral treatments are just as effective in homosexual couples as they are for heterosexuals.

Rachel Baggaley, the World Health Organization's coordinator for HIV prevention and testing, said this latest study "adds to the clear and consistent evidence" that HIV transmission to sexual partners does not occur when someone with HIV is on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and their virus is suppressed. Also, it provides a huge push to the worldwide U=U campaign that aims to spread the message that undetectable HIV is not transmissible. "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".

The study proves, the researchers said, that using antiretroviral therapy to suppress the AIDS virus to undetectable levels also means it can not be passed on via sex, the researchers said.

"We've got a way to go to get people easier access to testing and treatment, but if we could get global coverage, then we could really make headway in eliminating the virus", she said.

Deborah Gold, chief executive of National AIDS Trust said more should be done to get the message out to healthcare workers and the public.

Therefore you should do yourself a favor and limit your sexual partners to one who is trusted.

"The Partner study has given us the confidence to say, without doubt, that people living with HIV who are on effective treatment can not pass the virus on to their sexual partners".

As a result, the study underscores the importance of regular HIV testing and allotting resources to ensure that HIV-positive individuals are receiving regular ongoing treatment from a medical provider. "We think this is vital to addressing stigma". It also found zero risk of transmission when the HIV-positive partner adheres to a medical regime and lowers their viral load to undetectable levels.

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