NEW YORK, N.Y. — A report published in The Lancet medical journal is stating that the risk of passing on the HIV virus is eliminated by effective drug treatment. The report shows that using antiretroviral therapy (ART) to suppress an HIV virus to undetectable levels also renders it incapable of transmission during sex, according to the researchers.
A study of nearly 1000 gay male couples with one HIV-positive partner who participated in ART found no new cases of transmission to the HIV-negative partner during sex without a condom.
Over the course of the eight-year study, 15 men were infected with HIV. However, genetic tests found those infections stemmed from previously uninfected men having intercourse with infected men not involved in ART therapy.
The researchers also warn that stigma and homophobia have meant that getting tested for HIV and accessing treatment is not always possible, particularly for men who have sex with men. Additionally, they stress that a lack of early detection negatively impacts treatment results.
During his February State of the Union address, Donald Trump announced what he claims as plans to eliminate HIV transmission in the U.S. within the next 10 years. Central to this initiative is the early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of HIV.
While some health experts applauded Trump’s effort, many have also criticized the White House for cutting funding for HIV/AIDS programs in the past. In 2018 alone there was a siphoning off of millions of dollars from HIV/AIDS research and prevention.
In his 2020 budget, Trump requested $291 million for the project, though this sum is not guaranteed. At the same time, he proposed slashing funding to HIV programs through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) by $1.35 billion overall, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit group that researches health care and other issues.