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Antiretroviral treatment therapy makes HIV patients sexually non-infectious

Posted May 3, 2019

HIV is a scary scary thing. Eventually it may end up in AIDS and patient‘s lives change forever. Advancements of medical science improved this situation, but it is still quite terrible – until we find a cure, it is still going to be one of the worst diseases of modern times. Now a new research led by UCL and the University of Copenhagen found that HIV treatments makes men sexually non-infectious.

Antiretroviral treatment therapy reduces the viral load to virtually undetectable levels and makes HIV sexually non-infectious. Image credit: NIAID via Wikimedia, CC-BY-2.0

Antiretroviral treatment therapy reduces the viral load to virtually undetectable levels and makes HIV sexually non-infectious. Image credit: NIAID via Wikimedia, CC-BY-2.0

HIV is not just a health concern and a condition requiring a continuous treatment. It is also a huge responsibility. You have to inform your sex partners about your condition and it is never an easy thing to do. Providing this piece of information to your partners is still going to be important, but now an eight-year study of nearly 1,000 gay couples in Europe is proving that supressed HIV can be sexually non-infectious.

This colossal study found zero HIV transmissions between gay couples where one partner was HIV negative and the other was HIV positive. This was an effect of an effective treatment with a viral load of less than 200 copies/mL. Viral load is a measurement how much virus is in a millilitre of blood. The way to keep the viral load low is, of course, antiretroviral treatment therapy (ART), which is able to keep it at undetectable levels. This is the first longitudinal study involving nearly 1,000 gay couples to prove that ART is that effective. Zero HIV transmissions in almost 1,000 gay couples with one partner with HIV, can you imagine? This is huge?

Scientists estimate that the treatment prevented around 472 HIV transmissions. This means that ART is as effective for gay couples, as it is for heterosexual couples, which were studied in a previous study. Scientists say that now it is important to spread this message, encourage more people with HIV to take treatment and tackle the stigma that surrounds HIV patients.

Professor Jens Lundgren, one of the authors of the paper, said: “It is crucial to implement science with importance for the involved community and people living with HIV. We have now provided the conclusive scientific evidence for how treatment effectively prevents further sexual transmission of HIV”. This is just further evidence that science is making strides towards eradicating HIV problem.

Making HIV sexually non-infectious would prevent a huge portion of transmissions. Gay people are more likely to be infected due to the way they have sex and omitted protection. However, this message is good news for everyone – HIV under treatment pretty much doesn’t spread through sex. And the treatment is already here, which is a rare case when the findings of the study are already enjoyed by thousands of people.


Source: UCL

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