Health Care

HIV drugs stop sexual transmission of AIDS virus, say doctors

HIV drugs stop sexual transmission of AIDS virus, say doctors”

"Our findings provide conclusive evidence that the risk of HIV transmission through anal sex when HIV viral load is suppressed is effectively zero", researchers concluded.

Among almost 1,000 male couples across Europe where one partner with HIV was receiving treatment to suppress the virus, there were no cases of transmission of the infection to the HIV-negative partner during sex without a condom.

HIV-suppressing medication could stop sexual transmission of the AIDS virus among gay couples - even if they had sex without condoms.

The unidentified man named "the London patient" has been free of the virus for 18 months, and has not had to use treatment to make his HIV undetectable after a stem cell transplant was used to treat his cancer.

She said this "powerful message" could help end the HIV pandemic by preventing the virus' transmission in high-risk populations.

The researchers said about 472 transmissions of HIV would have been expected without the treatment, but the actual figure stood at zero.

More than 21 million people now receive regular ART medication, which suppresses the virus - only around 59 percent of global HIV sufferers.

The authors of the study noted several limitations, including that the average age of the HIV-negative men was 38.

Individuals now on ART must take medication nearly every day for the rest of their lives, and treatment is often disrupted for a variety of reasons.

'Timely identification of HIV-infected people and provision of effective treatment leads to near normal health and virtual elimination of the risk of HIV transmission, ' said Myron Cohen, from the UNC Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases.

"Yet maximising the benefits of ART has proven daunting: fear, stigma, homophobia, and other adverse social forces continue to compromise HIV treatment".

The scientists added that ART proved just as effective for gay couples as it had for heterosexual couples. That study also found that the risk of the virus being passed on was zero.

During that time-frame 15 HIV-negative men became infected with HIV, but none of the viruses screened in the newly infected partner was genetically linked to the HIV virus that had infected their main partners - ruling out any within-couple HIV transmissions, the research team said. Of these, at least 90 percent must receive ART, and the HIV virus be suppressed in 90 percent of those.

The cost of PrEP and stigma of HIV might explain why every year in Canada up to 3,000 people are infected.

While the number of AIDS deaths is falling, the number of new infections worldwide remains stubbornly high at 1.8 million new cases each year. Of those cases, more than 35 million died from AIDS-related illnesses.

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