I have written here before about the need to update our laws to reflect current HIV/AIDS science. This new analysis further reinforces that need.
Past studies have suggested that the risk of passing the virus to an HIV-negative person was low for people with low levels of HIV in their blood because of antiretroviral therapy.Laws that were written and passed in the wake of the AIDS crisis and surrounding hysteria have no place in a world where HIV is a treatable and manageable condition, much like diabetes. But if you claim that giving someone a diabetes like condition is worthy of jail-time, watch out fast food CEOs!
One study, involving mostly heterosexual couples, found that people who started the therapy early in their infection were 96 percent less likely to pass HIV to a partner than were people who delayed treatment.
But participants in that study regularly used condoms, which also reduce the risk of transmission, Rodger and her colleagues write in JAMA.
The new study, conducted in 14 European countries, involved couples with one HIV-positive partner and one HIV-negative partner who had unprotected sex with each other. In the HIV-positive partner, the viral load had to be less than 200 copies per milliliter of blood.
Overall, the 548 heterosexual and 340 gay couples reported about 60,000 unprotected sex acts during the study.
While 11 HIV-negative participants became HIV-positive, those infections could not be traced back to the HIV-positive partner. Laboratory testing showed the new infections were different from the virus in the HIV-positive partners.
About 33 percent of gay participants and 4 percent of heterosexual participants who were HIV-negative at the start of the study reported condom-less sex with other partners, the researchers write.
Past research, Rodger said, suggests the risk of transmission is very low among heterosexual couples in which the HIV-positive partner has undetectable levels of the virus in their blood.
But there was very little data on men in sexual relationships with other men, Rodger said, adding that more research is needed on the risk of transmission during condom-less anal sex.
“We think the risk from condom-less anal sex is low, but we need to ensure we have a couple years of follow-up to give more precise estimates,” she said.
Now I can already hear (read) my detractors. "You're saying that HIV positive people don't have to tell their partners."
That's not what I'm saying at all. But these draconian laws discourage people from getting tested and getting on treatment and that leads to higher rates of HIV. Indeed, HIV rates are exploding right here in South Florida. When something is not working, it's time to try something else.