Treatment as Prevention
When people living with HIV use antiretroviral medication to dramatically reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to their partners, we refer to this as ‘Treatment as prevention’ (TasP).
Treatments keep your immune system healthy and reduce the risk of developing health conditions associated with HIV. Treatments suppress the levels of HIV (viral load) in a person’s blood and other body fluids, often to the point of being ‘undetectable’ when tested. Having an undetectable viral load brings about better health and dramatically lowers the risk of the virus being transmitted to sexual partners.
A number of trials in recent years indicate that TasP is effective at preventing HIV transmission. This was confirmed beyond doubt in 2015 by the most recent findings of the ongoing HPTN 052 and PARTNER studies.
Both studies showed no HIV transmissions in heterosexual and gay couples where one partner was HIV-positive and the other negative (serodiscordant), where the HIV-positive partner’s viral load was undetectable.
The same results have been found two years into an Australian trial with gay male couples, the Opposites Attract study.
The results of these trials confirm the importance of ensuring all people with HIV are offered early treatment, not only for their own health but as an effective HIV prevention strategy.