STUDY: HIV Transmission Is Virtually Zero For Patients “Reliably” Taking Their Meds

Via the Charlotte News & Observer:

Groundbreaking research conducted at UNC-Chapel Hill has demonstrated that potent drug cocktails can disable HIV to the point that the deadly virus can’t be transmitted to other people through sexual activity. The findings were announced Monday by AIDS researcher Myron Cohen at the eigth International AIDS Society Conference in Vancouver, Canada. Cohen, UNC’s chief of the Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases, has headed the global research project for a decade and studied more than 1,700 couples.

The landmark study, financed with more than $100 million in federal research grants, confirmed initial results reported in 2011 and demonstrated that AIDS medications known as antiretroviral therapy, or ART, can suppress the virus for years. The virus can reemerge if the patient stops taking the medicine, but as long as it’s suppressed, the virus essentially is harmless and most patients can lead normal, healthy lives. “If people are taking their pills reliably and they’re taking them for some period of time, the probability of transmission in this study is actually zero,” Cohen said by phone from Vancouver. “Let me say it another way: We never saw a case of HIV transmission in a person who is stably suppressed on ART.”

The researchers stressed that they are not advocating unprotected sex for those taking anti-retrovirals.