Published: Sun, May 05, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

‘Effectively Zero’: Study Shows Antiretroviral Therapy Blocks HIV Transmission

‘Effectively Zero’: Study Shows Antiretroviral Therapy Blocks HIV Transmission

(Indeed, the outcome was previewed a year ago-today is the formal publication of the study.) It's another piece of evidence that HIV treatment doubles as HIV prevention, heralding a very important shift in the approach to managing the public health risks.

A landmark study has further confirmed evidence that an HIV positive person has zero chance of transmitting the virus to a sexual partner if they are taking antiretroviral therapy medication, helping to put an end to the stigma of gay and bisexual men.

During the course of the PARTNER study, 15 people did contract HIV but not from their main partner who was taking antiretroviral drugs.

If everyone in the world with HIV knew their status and had access to effective treatment, no new cases would occur, the study suggests.

It means an end to the HIV pandemic could be in sight.

The study referred to as Partner was published on The Lancet on Thursday. "Our findings support the message of the worldwide U=U campaign that an undetectable viral load makes HIV untransmittable". In every single couple, there was no report of the HIV-negative partner getting infected from their partner. That study also found zero risk of transmission.

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Its findings add to an earlier phase of the study which looked at HIV transmission risk for serodifferent heterosexual couples in the same circumstances. Since the initial AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more than 77 million people have been infected with the virus. However, the incidence rate for new infections is still high - at around 1.8 million new cases globally each year. More than a third of participants reported having unprotected sex outside their relationship during the study.

"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", she said.

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.

What is antiretroviral therapy (ART)?

FILE PHOTO - A digitally colorized scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image depicts a single, red colored H9-T cell that had been infected by numerous, spheroid shaped, mustard colored human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) particles attached to the cell's surface membrane, as seen in this 2012 image obtained from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) located in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S., on March 5, 2019. It can not cure HIV, but it reduces viral load to a level that is undetectable in the blood.

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