A study on nearly European 1,000 gay male couples where one partner with HIV was receiving antiretroviral drugs to suppress the virus, there were no cases of HIV transmission within couples during sex without condom.
After eight years of follow up of the so-called serodifferent couples, that using antiretroviral therapy (ART), had no chance of infecting their partner, that means ‘zero risk’ and it cannot be passed on via sex.
“It’s brilliant – fantastic,” said Prof Alison Rodgers from University College London, the co-leader of the paper published in the Lancet medical journal. She said “This powerful message can help end the HIV pandemic by preventing HIV transmission, and tackling the stigma and discrimination that many people with HIV face.
She added: “Our findings provide conclusive evidence for gay men that the risk of HIV transmission with suppressive antiretroviral therapy is zero. Our findings support the message of the international U=U campaign that an undetectable viral load makes HIV untransmittable.
Although 15 men did become infected with HIV during the study, genetic testing showed that none of the viruses came from their main partner.
“Our findings provide conclusive evidence that the risk of HIV transmission through anal sex when HIV viral load is suppressed is effectively zero,” the researchers said.
Jens Lundgren, a professor of infectious diseases at Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, and joint-lead for the study, called Partner, said: “We have now provided the conclusive scientific evidence for how treatment effectively prevents further sexual transmission of HIV.”
Dr. Michael Brady, the medical director at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said “The Partner study has given us the confidence to say, without doubt, that people living with HIV who are on effective treatment cannot pass the virus on to their sexual partners. This has incredible impact on the lives of people living with HIV and is a powerful message to address HIV-related stigma.”