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Antiretroviral treatment prevents sexual transmission of HIV

People on HIV treatment 'ART', where the virus is at undetectable levels, are “sexually non-infectious”, finds a landmark study led by Prof Alison Rodger. This will have a strong impact on people with HIV and help address HIV-related stigma.

Couple on cliff

A UCL-led study found that people on effective HIV treatment, where the virus is suppressed, have no chance of infecting their partners. 

The ‘conclusive findings’ from an eight-year study of nearly 1,000 gay male couples in Europe were published in 2019 in the Lancet. They report zero HIV transmissions between gay couples where one partner was HIV negative and the other was HIV positive and on effective treatment.

For anyone on HIV treatment, known as antiretroviral treatment therapy (ART), the aim is to achieve and keep HIV viral load at undetectable levels.
The results showed that antiretroviral treatment is just as effective in preventing transmission for gay couples, as it is for heterosexual couples, which was proved in an earlier phase of the study.

Lead author, Professor Alison Rodger (UCL Institute for Global Health) said:

Our findings provide conclusive evidence for gay men that the risk of HIV transmission with suppressive antiretroviral treatment therapy is zero.

The study has generated excitement globally as preventing HIV transmission is vital to ending the HIV pandemic, so the finding underscores the value of effective screening and treatment. The news is having an incredible impact on the lives of people living with HIV, and is a powerful message to address HIV-related stigma. 



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