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New study reveals undetectable viral loads limit chances of passing on HIV

New study reveals undetectable viral loads limit chances of passing on HIV

LAST UPDATED // Thursday, 06 March 2014 14:34 Written by // Cec Busby

New research revealed at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections held in Boston yesterday, has shown HIV positive people with undetectable viral loads as a result of antiretroviral treatment (ART) have almost zero chance of passing on the virus to their partners.

The research draws its findings from the PARTNER study which documented the behaviour of 110 serodiscordant couples, where one partner is HIV positive and the other negative. The participating couples were a mix of gay and heterosexual, but all were on ART.

The study is set to continue until 2017 – but preliminary findings from the first two years of study show no cases of HIV transmission between couples.

A previous study, HPTN 052, established similar results several years ago but focussed mainly on straight couples. The PARTNER study was designed to confirm the effectiveness of ART among gay couples as well.

NSW’ HIV organisation, ACON, says the research is significant news for people and communities affected by HIV.

“While we’ve known for some time that HIV treatment can be used as a method of HIV prevention, this new research is the most conclusive indication yet about the effectiveness of anti-retroviral treatment and the role it has to play in ending HIV transmission,” says ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill.

Currently ACON’s three pronged approach to ending HIV includes a strategy to see more people embark on treatment for the virus.

“One of the three pillars of the NSW Government’s ground-breaking HIV Strategy – which seeks to end HIV transmission in NSW by 2020 – is to get people with HIV on to treatment as soon as possible,” said Parkhill. “Contemporary anti-retroviral treatment not only has significant health benefits for people with HIV, but, as this new research now largely confirms, it reduces the likelihood of passing on the virus to practically zero.”

Australia’s Kirby Institute is conducting a similar study called Opposites Attract.


Cec Busby

Cec Busby

Cec Busby is the news editor of SX and

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