‘Treatment As Prevention’ Works According to New Study: ‘Opposites Attract’ when one partner is HIV positive and undetectable and the other is negative.
News out of an Australian study, Opposites Attract, which is studying the transmission risk between gay couples in which one partner is HIV positive, on treatment and undetectable and the other partner is HIV negative is extremely promising–showing the benefit of current HIV treatment in preventing new infections.
According to the release from The Kirby Institute:
“The Opposites Attract study is a four-year cohort study of HIV transmission and HIV treatments in gay men in serodiscordant relationships (where one partner is HIV positive and the other is negative).”
The study included 234 gay male serodiscordant couples with representation from Australia, Bangkok, Thailand, and Brazil. This interim analysis focused on 152 of the couples “who had attended at least one follow-up by the time of the analysis.” The couples were in the study about a year.
From that analysis, so far, there have been no “linked” HIV transmissions. But researchers warn that a larger pool of couples is needed in order to determine the risk of HIV transmission when no condoms are used during intercourse.
“The true risk of transmission could be anywhere between zero and 4.2% per year, with a very small chance that the per-year risk could be higher than 4.2%,” said Professor Grulich, the chief investigator of the study.
In fact, Grulich confirms that no HIV-negative man in the study has contracted HIV from his HIV-positive partner.
The study is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), and presented at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle, Washington. The final results are expected in 2017.
WHAT THIS MEANS?
“These results confirm the importance and effectiveness of going on highly active HIV treatments – not only for our own health as people living with HIV but for the health of our sexual partners. Stigma and fear of knowing and disclosing our HIV status remains an underlying factor driving the HIV epidemic. These findings also have a dramatic effect upon our confidence to disclosure our HIV status to sexual partners knowing that the likelihood of infecting someone is so markedly diminished when we are on treatments and maintaining an undetectable viral load. This study has had tremendous support from the HIV positive community and we have been anxiously waiting to see such great news such as this. We have had enough fear and stigma of HIV and the entire community needs to become aware of the new facts of HIV. HIV shouldn’t stand in the way of love.” – Brent Allan, Executive Officer, Living Positive Victoria