The results from a French study have raised concerns about how quickly HIV can recover in semen.
Health experts are now concerned over HIV-positive men taking part in trials for advanced HIV-vaccines or a possible HIV-drug. The reason being, according to HIVPlus Mag, pausing HIV treatment for 12 weeks led to HIV rebounding exponentially during the study.
According to Poz, the study was conducted by French scientists in 2019. The case study was then published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. The scientists looked at “10 male participants in the VRI02 trial who were enrolled in a semen substudy between April 2015 and December 2015.” All the participants had been on ARVS for at least 18 months before starting the trial. The participants then underwent analytical treatment interruption (or ATI) and randomly assigned two experimental therapeutic vaccines or a placebo. The men’s viral loads in their blood plasma was then monitored frequently.
Before the study, all of the participants had a viral load count below 20. By the end, the maximum median viral load during the trial was 132,000. The concern comes from earlier research stating that a viral load of around 1,500 is when the virus becomes transmissible. One man in the French study even transmitted HIV to his female partner during the ATI.
With the results from this test, HIV researchers state the need to be more mindful of how to safely test HIV-positive subjects without endangering them or their loved ones.
“Our data demonstrate rapid and high HIV rebound in semen after ATI, raising concerns about high risk of HIV sexual transmission during HIV cure trials,” the study authors concluded.