HIV treatment-as-prevention is effective in homosexual male couples, study finds

July 17, 2018 by Estelle Jones, University of New South Wales
HIV treatment-as-prevention is effective in homosexual male couples, study finds
Credit: Shutterstock

A study led by the Kirby Institute at UNSW supports evidence that treatment-as-prevention allows people living with HIV to have effectively zero chance of sexually transmitting the virus to others.

Results from a large study of HIV transmission risk among homosexual male couples with differing HIV status were today published in The Lancet HIV.

The study, led by the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney and called Opposites Attract, contributes to global demonstrating a HIV-positive person on daily antiretroviral therapy (ART) and with an undetectable viral load has effectively zero chance of transmitting the virus to their sexual partner.

"Opposites Attract shows that HIV treatment-as-prevention works," said Dr. Benjamin Bavinton from the Kirby Institute, who is the study's project leader. "Not only is this information vital to inform HIV prevention in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, it provides strong evidence to help dismantle some of the stigma still associated with HIV."

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.

Despite over 12,000 acts of condomless anal intercourse over the course of the study where the HIV-negative partner was not taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and the HIV-positive partner was virally suppressed, there were no new HIV infections detected due to sex.

Since it was first presented at last year's IAS Conference on HIV Science in Paris, the Opposites Attract data has added to a previously limited body of evidence in this area.

"These results form a significant part of the evidence base for the international community-led Undetectable=Untransmissible, or U=U campaign, which highlights the fact that people living with HIV can now live long and healthy lives, with effectively zero chance of sexually transmitting the virus to others, provided their viral load is undetectable due to effective ART," said Professor Andrew Grulich, head of the Kirby Institute's HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Program and chief investigator on the study.

The study has been cited in the Consensus Statement endorsed by HIV global leaders and organisations on risk of sexual transmission of HIV from a person living with HIV who has an undetectable .

Explore further: Effective treatment halts HIV transmission among homosexual couples, study finds

More information: Viral suppression and HIV transmission in serodiscordant male couples: an international, prospective, observational, cohort study. The Lancet HIV. DOI: doi.org/10.1016/S2352-3018(18)30132-2

Related Stories

Effective treatment halts HIV transmission among homosexual couples, study finds

July 26, 2017
Results from the largest study to analyse HIV transmission risk among homosexual couples with differing HIV status have shown that HIV positive men who are on treatment that makes the virus undetectable, do not transmit HIV ...

Good news for HIV treatment as prevention

March 7, 2014
The Kirby Institute at UNSW Australia welcomes early results from the PARTNER study, which has found that HIV positive gay men who are on treatment and have undetectable viral load are not transmitting HIV to their partners.

Study suggests many gay and bisexual men are skeptical, but attitudes are on the rise

January 11, 2018
Dr. Jonathon Rendina, an Assistant Professor at Hunter College and Director of Quantitative Methods at Hunter's Center for HIV Educational Studies & Training, and Dr. Jeffrey Parsons, Distinguished Professor at Hunter and ...

Fewer men who have sex with men are using condoms when taking PrEP, and that's OK

June 7, 2018
Fewer gay and bisexual men are using condoms while taking PrEP, the antiretroviral pill that prevents HIV, according to research published today in the The Lancet medical journal.

Beliefs about better treatment for HIV leads gay men to engage in riskier sex

February 8, 2017
A survey spanning 19 years of participants at a gay pride event in the US notes a consistent increase in the occurrence of condomless anal sex among men, as well as a rise in how many sex partners they have. Condomless receptive ...

Scientists divulge latest in HIV prevention

July 25, 2017
A far cry from the 1990s "ABC" campaign promoting abstinence and monogamy as HIV protection, scientists reported on new approaches Tuesday allowing people to have all the safe sex they want.

Recommended for you

HIV vaccine protects non-human primates from infection

December 14, 2018
For more than 20 years, scientists at Scripps Research have chipped away at the challenges of designing an HIV vaccine. Now new research, published in Immunity, shows that their experimental vaccine strategy works in non-human ...

Roadmap reveals shortcut to recreate key HIV antibody for vaccines

December 11, 2018
HIV evades the body's immune defenses through a multitude of mutations, and antibodies produced by the host's immune system to fight HIV also follow convoluted evolutionary pathways that have been challenging to track.

Eliminating the latent reservoir of HIV

December 7, 2018
A new study suggests that a genetic switch that causes latent HIV inside cells to begin to replicate can be manipulated to completely eradicate the virus from the human body. Cells harboring latent HIV are "invisible" to ...

New research highlights why HIV-infected patients suffer higher rates of cancer

December 5, 2018
AIDS patients suffer higher rates of cancer because they have fewer T-cells in their bodies to fight disease. But new research examines why HIV-infected patients have higher rates of cancer—among the leading causes of death ...

Focus on resistance to HIV offers insight into how to fight the virus

November 30, 2018
Of the 40 million people around the world infected with HIV, less than one per cent have immune systems strong enough to suppress the virus for extended periods of time. These special immune systems are known as "elite controllers." ...

Patients with rare natural ability to suppress HIV shed light on potential functional cure

November 27, 2018
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have identified two patients with HIV whose immune cells behave differently than others with the virus and actually appear to help control viral load even years after infection. Moreover, both ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.