Recently a clinical trial was completed that showed that antiretroviral therapy of HIV patients stops HIV transmission.
As the underlying Lancet study showed, this prospective observational study was done at 75 sites in 14 European countries involving 972 gay couples. 782 provided eligible questionnaires. The average age of the couples was between 38 and 40 years. Notably, the researchers followed these gay couples for 2 years.
Of these couples one partner had an infection with HIV (HIV seropositive) while the other partner was seronegative. To clarify, the seropositive partner received a cocktail of antiretroviral drugs (3 or more drugs) to suppress the HIV infection. ART stands for anti-retroviral therapy. In addition, the partners did not use condoms and had regular anal sex.
After two years of follow-up the results showed no transmission of HIV to the seronegative partner despite regular non-protected sexual encounters. The research team conducted a similar study in heterosexual couples where one partner was HIV positive, the other negative. It showed that as long as the HIV positive partner was on antiretroviral drugs there was no HIV transmission to the seronegative partner with vaginal sex.
This study seems to show for the first time how powerful the cocktail drug treatment for HIV patients is. AIDS is still a serious illness, but no longer the feared disease it once was. It is still a chronic disease that attempts to wipe out the immune system of the affected person. But with proper ART protocols involving a 3 or 4 pill cocktail the HIV virus can be successfully suppressed. After several years of taking ART many HIV patients can experience a cure. It was not an entirely surprise that the viral shed rate was not high enough to transmit HIV to a seronegative partner despite unprotected sex.
A two-year study involved 782 gay couples. The one partner had an HIV infection; the other partner was seronegative for HIV. The HIV infected partner was taking a cocktail of antiretroviral drugs, which appears to have successfully suppressed the HIV virus. The partners had unprotected anal sex. At the end of the two-year observation time none of the seronegative partners showed a positive HIV test. The same findings applied to heterosexual couples, where one partner had an HIV infection for which he or she received a drug cocktail to combat the disease.
The authors state that they are the first to show that a zero HIV transmission is possible in either heterosexual couples or gay couples as long as the HIV positive partner takes antiretroviral drugs regularly.