Breakthrough study finds HIV drugs can stop the transmission of the virus

AIDS Drugs Prevent Sexual Transmission Of HIV In Gay Men

"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".

The Europe-wide study monitored almost 1,000 gay male couples over a period of eight years, where one partner was HIV-positive and receiving antiretroviral (ART) treatment, while the other was HIV negative.

The study was conducted on 75 clinical sites in 14 European countries between September 2010 and July 2017. The researchers followed up with the volunteers for a median of two years, during which they reported if they had sex without a condom. In the absence of ART, on the basis of the frequency and type of sex, for receptive condomless anal sex acts alone approximately 472 transmissions (95% CI 83-714) would have been expected.

A groundbreaking advancement has been made in the fight against HIV: a study on HIV-carrying men found that the risk of viral transmission is zero if the virus is suppressed by antiretrovirals. The management of HIV/AIDS typically includes the use of multiple antiretroviral drugs in an attempt to control HIV infection.

Study shows people who control their HIV infections to undetectable viral levels cannot transmit the disease to others.

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Still, accessibility to HIV testing and treatment are likely to remain hurdles to curbing HIV.

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

Rodger said the study provides "conclusive evidence" that the risk of transmission through sex is zero when virus levels are fully suppressed by antiretroviral therapy (ART).

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.

She then added, "This powerful message can help end the HIV pandemic by preventing HIV transmission".

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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.

In the United Kingdom, 98% of individuals who have been diagnosed as HIV-positive are receiving ART and 97% of those have viral loads that are undetectable, meaning they can not transmit the virus to others.

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

In addition to saving lives, there is hope that this study will reduce the stigma and discrimination HIV-positive people face in many aspects of life.

Dr. Myron Cohen, director of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wrote a commentary that accompanied the study.

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