HIV+ MSM partners on effective treatment do not transmit the virus, study finds


A recent study, released at the International Aids Conference in Amsterdam, has revealed that gay or bisexual men on effective ARV treatment pose no risk of passing HIV through condomless sex.

About 76 000 cases of gay sex were studied where an HIV positive partner had an undetectable viral load.

The research was revealed on Tuesday (July 24), building on the previous study from 2014, which also indicated that a person with an undetectable viral load cannot pass on HIV.

The study was conducted in 14 countries, revealing that there were no instances of HIV being passed between same-sex couples, where the HIV infected partner had a viral load under 200.

Researchers found that the risk of an HIV-positive person with an undetectable viral load passing on HIV is “scientifically equivalent to zero.”

A similar study led by the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, called Opposites Attract, examining over 12 000 MSM cases of condomless sex, also found that not a single transmission of HIV occurred between an HIV positive partner on effective treatment and an HIV negative person.

The study further added to global evidence demonstrating that when an HIV-positive partner is on daily antiretroviral therapy (ART) and has an undetectable viral load, the risk of sexual transmission to the HIV-negative partner is not possible.

In that study, researchers tracked the sexual behaviour of 343 couples in Australia, Brazil and Thailand over a four-year period, specifically acts of condomless anal intercourse, along with testing the HIV-negative partner for HIV, and the HIV-positive partner’s viral load.

In South Africa, the prevalence of HIV has risen to 13.1%, said South Africa’s Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke on Monday. There are about 7.52 million people estimated to be living with HIV in South Africa. According to Maluleke, “HIV prevalence among adults aged 15 to 49 is increasing while declining among youth 15 to 24 [years].”

StatsSA has said that one-fifth of women in South Africa find out they are HIV positive during their reproductive age, which is between 15 and 49.

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