CDC Acknowledges That Undetectable HIV-Positive People Have 'Effectively No Risk' of Transmission


Just one day late for National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that HIV positive people whose virus is suppressed by antiretroviral therapy “have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.” Evidence of this has been mounting for almost 20 years.

The CDC’s statement read in part:

Scientific advances have shown that antiretroviral therapy (ART) preserves the health of people living with HIV. We also have strong evidence of the prevention effectiveness of ART. When ART results in viral suppression, defined as less than 200 copies/ml or undetectable levels, it prevents sexual HIV transmission. Across three different studies, including thousands of couples and many thousand acts of sex without a condom or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), no HIV transmissions to an HIV-negative partner were observed when the person was virally suppressed. This means that people who take ART daily as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.

The three studies referred to are PARTNER, Opposites Attract, HPTN 052—over the course of tens of thousands of sex acts between serodifferent couples, gay and straight, these studies all found zero transmissions when the HIV member of the couple was virally suppressed to the point of being considered undetectable.

The CDC’s report including a sobering reminder that a high number of people living with HIV are not being treated:

…According to a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, too many gay and bisexual men living with HIV are not getting the care and treatment they need. Among gay and bisexual men living with diagnosed HIV, 61% have achieved viral suppression, more than in previous years, but well short of where we want to be.

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