Updated: May, 2016
Is it true that if a HIV positive partner is on treatment and has an undetectable viral load then there is almost no risk of HIV transmission in anal sex between gay men?
Yes. The PARTNER study shows that the chances of HIV transmission could be about 1% and in the worst case, as high as 4%, over a year depending on the nature of the sex between men. That is, the transmission risk could be as high as 4% if the HIV positive partner on HIV treatment with undetectable viral load is the top, and 1% if he’s the bottom.
These are the initial results from the European PARTNER study presented in 2014. These encouraging numbers tell us that a lot has changed when it comes to treatment’s effect on transmission risk. More results are due from this study in the next year or two.
Today, treatment is much easier to take, has a much lower risk of side effects and is much more effective at controlling HIV while keeping your immune system healthy. Treatment also greatly reduces the risk of developing health conditions associated with HIV.
The evidence for these effects is strengthening, but there is an overwhelming consensus that effective treatment not only is a key to reducing HIV transmission, it has the potential to transform the sexual relationships of people living with HIV and gay men more broadly.
Today more than ever, we know that we can end HIV by 2020 if we test more, treat early and continue to stay safe.
Click here to find out the answers to questions you may have around the benefits and effectiveness of treatment, in particular the term “undetectable viral load” that pops up everywhere: blogs, medical journals, social media and even dating apps.