Antiretroviral Treatments Suppress HIV Transmission

Antiretroviral Treatments Suppress HIV Transmission

The HIV-positive partner in each couple received treatment for the virus throughout the entire study.

"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.

Almost 1,000 gay couples, where one person was taking medication for HIV and one person did not have the virus, took part in the study and no cases of transmission from a person taking medication were recorded.

A new study shows that the use of suppressive antiretroviral drugs reduces the risk of sexual transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) between partners to zero.

The report, published in The Lancet medical journal, shows that using ART to suppress HIV to undetectable levels renders it incapable of transmission during sex.

These results come on the heels of a similar study that included a mix of heterosexual and same-sex couples.

Over the course of eight years, the virus was not transmitted once. Only 15 men were infected with HIV during the study, but researchers found this occurred only when the person had had sex with someone other than their partner who was not being treated.

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This time, "our results offer conclusive proof to gay men that the risk of HIV transmission with antiretroviral therapy suppressing the viral charge is zero", Alison Rodger, the University College London professor who edited the study, considered. "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.

For this phase of the study, researchers only recruited gay male couples.

Since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more than 77 million people have become infected with HIV.

"This message has been endorsed by more than 780 HIV organisations in 96 countries and can help end the HIV pandemic by preventing HIV transmission, and tackling the stigma and discrimination that many people with HIV face". However, the incidence rate for new infections is still high - at around 1.8 million new cases globally each year. According to the Terrence Higgins Trust, an LGBTQ+ health charity, in 2017 just over half of the people diagnosed were gay or bisexual men.

Prof Jens Lundgren, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Copenhagen said: "It is crucial to implement science with importance for the involved community and people living with HIV".

"This has an incredible impact on the lives of people living with HIV and is a powerful message to address HIV-related stigma", he concludes.

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