Health Care

Another study finds antiretrovirals stop transmission of HIV between gay sexual partners

Another study finds antiretrovirals stop transmission of HIV between gay sexual partners”

Voluntary HIV testing followed by immediate ART initiation is an integral part of strategies to eliminate HIV and control the HIV/AIDS epidemic because individuals with HIV have a lower risk of transmitting the virus and developing AIDS or serious illness if they start ART as soon as possible after HIV infection.

Researchers monitored nearly 1,000 gay male couple across Europe over an 8-year period, where one partner was HIV-positive and undergoing ART and the other didn't have the virus. The couples reported unprotected sex for a median of one year.

Doctors found that over the course of the study there was not a single case of in-couple transmission.

She added: "Our findings provide conclusive evidence for gay men that the risk of HIV transmission with suppressive antiretroviral therapy is zero".

Prof Alison Rodger, study author and professor of infectious diseases at University College London, said anal sex was known to have the highest risk of transmission, but gay men should be reassured. Our findings support the message of the global U=U campaign that an undetectable viral load makes HIV untransmittable. "This dissemination is necessary to promote the benefits of early testing and treatment and to tackle stigma, discrimination, and criminalisation laws that continue to affect HIV-positive people". But genetic tests showed that the transmissions were a result of the HIV-negative men having sexual relations with someone other than their regular partner.

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.

The European study targeted situations where one was living with HIV and on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and the other was HIV-negative over eight years, from 2010 to 2017.

"Increasing access to HIV testing (and) ART ... remains critical for individuals and is central to the HIV public health response", she said.

"It was such a powerful result that we thought we just improve the quality of life for people with HIV". The study suggests that if the transmission of HIV could be stopped using the drugs, the further spread of the virus could be stopped.

The researchers are now thrilled to report that there were zero cases of infection amongst the couples, regardless of the amount of sexual contact. "It will make a great difference when you can't transmit the virus to your partner", Dr Mugo said. "Timely identification of HIV-infected people and provision of effective treatment lead to near normal health and lifespan and virtual elimination of the risk of HIV transmission", Cohen added. "This has incredible impact on the lives of people living with HIV and is a powerful message to address HIV-related stigma".

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