Study confirms ART treatment prevents HIV transmission

U equals U U=U hiv prevention
Photo: Living Positive Victoria

A new European study has confirmed that there is zero risk of transmitting HIV to a partner while on effective antiretroviral treatment.

The study, called PARTNER2 and published today in journal The Lancet, investigated 972 male couples across Europe where one partner with HIV was receiving treatment to suppress the virus.

The study found there were no cases of transmission of the infection to the HIV-negative partner during condomless sex.

Although 15 men were infected during the eight-year study, genetic testing proved that none of those men contracted the virus from their partner.

Professor Alison Rodgers from University College London, who co-led the research said the findings provide conclusive evidence for gay and bisexual men that the risk of HIV transmission with suppressive antiretroviral therapy medication is zero.

“Our findings support the message of the international U=U campaign that an undetectable viral load makes HIV untransmittable,” Rodgers said.

“This powerful message can help end the HIV pandemic by preventing HIV transmission, and tackling the stigma and discrimination that many people with the virus face.

“Increased efforts must now focus on wider dissemination of this powerful message and ensuring that all HIV-positive people have access to testing, effective treatment, adherence support and linkage to care to help maintain an undetectable viral load.”

Last July, a similar study conducted by Australian researchers at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales was published with the same findings.

The Opposites Attract study monitored 343 couples in Australia, Brazil and Thailand for more than four years, including looking at condomless anal sex, the viral load of HIV-positive partners, and testing HIV-negative men for the virus.

The study found that there were no cases of transmission between the HIV-negative men, who were not taking prevention drug PrEP, and their HIV-positive partners, who were on effective daily treatment and had an undetectable viral load.

Last month, Australia’s first HIV self-testing device to receive TGA approval went on sale, allowing those at risk to test themselves in their own home.

In March, a monthly injection to deliver ART medication was found to work just as effectively as daily pill regimens in two initial trials.

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