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Results from a ground-breaking Australian study to analyse HIV transmission risk among gay couples with differing HIV status have shown, unequivocally, that HIV-positive men on treatment cannot transmit the virus to their sexual partners. The findings from Sydney’s Kirby Institute were presented at the IAS Conference in HIV science in Paris.
In the Opposites Attract study, 358 couples reported almost 17,000 acts of condomless anal sex with zero HIV transmission. “Undetectable virus level prevents HIV transmission among gay couples,” said chief investigator Professor Andrew Grulich. “Our research means that we can say, with confidence, that effectively treated HIV blocks transmission in couples of differing status.”
Describing the news as “life-changing”, Grulich said: “Our data add to previous studies which show that there has never been a recorded case of HIV transmission from an HIV-positive person to their HIV-negative sexual partner when the HIV-positive partner had undetectable viral load.”
The release of the findings comes after UNAIDS endorsed the ‘undetectable = untransmittable’ message. A UNAIDS document states: “There is increasing consensus among scientists that people with undetectable HIV in their blood do not transmit HIV sexually. This knowledge can be empowering for people with HIV. The awareness that they are no longer transmitting HIV sexually can provide people living with HIV with a stronger sense of being agents of prevention in their approach to new or existing relationships.”