Updated: Dec, 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 are negligible. There have been no transmissions recorded in this study despite approximately 30,000 acts of condomless sex. There is still a possibility that there may be a small risk, however as the study continues the upper limit of risk should continue to decrease.
Also, the initial results from the Opposites Attract study from the Kirby Institute at UNSW, analysing HIV transmission risk among serodiscordant couples (where one is HIV negative and one is positive) suggest that HIV positive men who are on treatment and have an undetectable viral load are not transmitting the virus to their partners.
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.