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Study Shows HIV+ Men On Effective Treatment Can't Transmit HIV To Partners

The results of a new medical research study presented at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam shows men who are HIV+ currently undergoing treatment do not pass the virus to negative partners.

According to the PARTNER 2 study, when HIV+ men are on effective HIV treatment bringing their viral load to ‘undetectable,’ not one incidence of transmission was noted even in cases of condomless sex. 

While the original PARTNER study focused on sero-discorant couples (one positive, one negative) that study looked primarily at opposite-sex couples, although there were 635 same-sex couples included.

PARTNER 2 involved data from those 635 couples plus another 337 same-sex couples added to the mix. Overall, couples from 14 countries took part in the study.

Looking at over 77,000 condomless sex acts between the partners, not one incident of transmission occurred when the HIV+ partner had a viral load under 200 copies/ml.

This seems to validate a previous study, Opposites Attract, which came to the same conclusion.

When you combine the participants of the two studies, medical experts couldn’t find one case of HIV transmission in examining 126,000 incidents of anal sex without a condom.

Researcher Alison Rodger told aidsmap.com, “We looked so hard for transmissions. And we didn’t find any.”

“This is the moment when science trumps stigma,” said Executive Director of NAM, Matthew Hodson, a leading HIV/AIDS organization in the United Kingdom. “This is the moment when facts must conquer fear.”

“The knowledge that when we are undetectable we can’t pass the virus on to our sexual partners has the power to encourage people to test and to remain adherent to their treatment,” added Hodson. “Just as importantly it can have an impact on the way that people with HIV think about themselves, removing some of the stress and fear that many in our communities experience.”

All of this helps to underscore the message “Undetectable = Untransmittable,” which countless sexual health organizations have been supporting in an effort to reduce the stigma of being HIV positive.

“This should be reassuring to every gay and bisexual man who is HIV-undetectable that you are not a danger to anyone and no person should use your status as a way to reject you,” said Ian Howley, Chief Executive of HERO – Health Equality and Rights Organization.

Here at Instinct, we recently wrote about the stigma of HIV - check it out here.