Mainstream news is today reporting on the results of the concluding results published by The Lancet which reinforce the U=U message. The PARTNER 2 study reports that “after 8 years of follow up, undetectable viral load on antiretroviral therapy results renders the individual unable to sexually transmit HIV.”
1,000 gay male serodiscordant couples (couples where one person is HIV-positive and one is HIV-negative) enrolled in the study.
The original PARTNER study found the results for gay couples were less precise at the end of the study and so PARTNER 2 aimed to produce similar results as observed in heterosexual couples.
“Over the nearly 8-year period, almost 70,000 episodes of condomless anal sex were reported, yet the results demonstrated 0 HIV transmissions within the couples in the study.”
“PARTNER2 data provides robust evidence for gay men that the risk of HIV transmission with suppressive ART is zero,” Alison Rodger, MRCP FFPH MSc DipHIV MD, senior lecturer and honorary consultant for infectious diseases and the clinical director of public health at the University College of London, and lead author on the PARTNER study, said in a recent statement.
ACT UP Dublin reacted to the “flurry of headlines” regarding the publication of the final results saying that although U=U is not a new finding, the coverage on the campaign is welcome, however it’s important to remember that accesibility is still a huge issue:
“We’ve known the findings of the study since last year—and we already had overwhelming evidence that effective treatment prevents HIV transmission—the Partner 2 study was published in the Lancet medical journal today. This has prompted a flurry of headlines helping bring this important message to many who might not have heard it before.
“That said, it’s important to keep headlines like this one in the Guardian in perspective. Yes, helping everyone living with HIV access treatment is critical to ending the epidemic—and in some wealthy countries that’s close to becoming a reality—but we’re a long way away from that happening around the world. It’s estimated that almost 20 million people living with HIV still do not have access to treatment.
“We can celebrate these important advances in our understanding of HIV, and the remarkable benefits of treatment for people living with HIV, but until these inequalities in access are addressed it’s too soon to be suggesting and end to the epidemic is in sight.”
Undetectable equals Untransmittable (U=U)
The Undetectable equals Untransmittable (U=U) campaign is working to change the public perception of HIV transmission, by reinforcing that if individuals who are HIV-positive take ART as prescribed, on a daily basis, and achieve an undetectable viral load, they will have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus on to an HIV-negative partner. This discovery has significant implications for individuals who are living with HIV, especially those who are in serodiscordant relationships and are thinking about engaging in condomless intercourse or attempting to conceive a child.
Not only do these new results signify a similar level of confidence of the level of risk for gay couples is the same as heterosexual couples, the results further underscore the effectiveness of adhering to an ART regimen.
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