There is good news on the forefront for both gay male and heterosexual couples when one partner is infected with HIV and the other is not. When anti-HIV treatments are given, the goal is to reach a point where the virus is undetectable. When it is undetectable, it is also not transmissible, according to recent studies announced in Amsterdam.
PARTNER 2 Study
The study that gave the final confirmation that there were no incidents of HIV transmission recorded from one gay man to another if one had HIV and was also on proper and effective treatment. The original PARTNER study was performed primarily to determine if an individual on effective treatment for their HIV could transmit to their partner in heterosexual intercourse.
Since it is typically understood that anal transmission of the virus is much more probable than vaginal, there was some question as to whether the results could be confirmed. Gay male couples were indeed included in the first study. In PARTNER 2, the study was done specifically for gay men.
Undetectable Equals Untransmittable (U=U)
Research prior to either of these studies indicated that the HIV virus could not be transmitted to a sexual partner if the virus is undetectable. This is very good news to those who are HIV positive and to their partners as well. Since the only way to end the epidemic is to prevent transmission, this brings the world just that much closer.
The study was performed over 14 different countries. It found that there were absolutely no viral transmissions in gay male couples as long as the partner who was infected displayed a viral load that was under 200.
These results held true and this is amazing considering the study covered about 77,000 condomless sex acts between the couples. Another study called Opposites Attract showed the very same results over 126,000 anal sex acts without a condom.
Is it Certain?
Upon discovering these results, one might be inclined to think there is still a chance. If there is, it is way less than one could consider as reasonably possible. When the HIV virus is suppressed, which it must be to prevent AIDS from developing, it simply cannot be transmitted. There is not a single study that can claim otherwise.
This is all the more reason for those who are HIV positive and sexually active to stay in compliance with their treatment protocols and to get tested regularly. Healthy gay sexual relationships are still possible even if one of the partners has HIV.
What this Means for AIDS
As long as cases of HIV are detected and treated effectively, we could be looking at a huge drop in infection rates. Once again, this will require better education and compliance across the board in order to be ultimately effective. There is now certainty that AIDS can be prevented in more ways than one and, potentially, the epidemic could be completely eradicated.
People who comply with their HIV treatments and achieve a low viral load or an undetectable load can easily lead normal sex lives again.