November #149 : Condomless Sex? Maybe Not Yet - by Laura Whitehorn

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Table of Contents

Free At Last?

It's a Girl!

Condomless Sex? Maybe Not Yet

Meditation Matters

Boys and Girls Together

Med Alert-November 2008

From the Inside: Strength to Spare

Ritonavir News

A Liver-Cleansing Herb’s Benefits Begin to Bloom

Sweet Spot

Bottoms Up

Starting Out Late?

Eat Well, Pay Little

Is Organic Food Worth the Splurge?

Coats of Many Colors

Prison Break

Ladies First


Shout Out!

In Their Words

You Said It...

Life’s Rich Pageant

How to... Disclose in the Heat of the Moment

Editor's Letter-November 2008

Your Feedback-November 2008

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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November 2008

Condomless Sex? Maybe Not Yet

by Laura Whitehorn

“Undetectable” HIV found in semen

Earlier this year, Swiss researchers issued a statement suggesting that HIV-positive people on meds, with undetectable viral loads for at least six months and no other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), were virtually sexually non-infectious—even if they didn’t use condoms.

The announcement provoked much discussion about whether condomless sex could be safe between serodiscordant couples. UNAIDS and the World Health Organization said, “No.” Activists and people living with HIV called for continued investigation.

In one new study, French researchers found that some men may have HIV in their semen even when it is undetectable in blood tests. The results of the study, published in AIDS in August 2008, showed that seven out of 145 HIV-positive men (all were taking HIV meds) had detectable HIV in their semen despite undetectable blood test results. In everyone else, viral loads in semen matched those in blood samples.

These findings suggest that people who are sexually active with a partner of a
different serostatus may want to think twice before ditching the latex.
French researchers and other scientists have listed some possible reasons for fluctuations in semen viral loads: a symptomless STI or inflammation of the prostate or urethra may boost seminal viral load; meds may fail to penetrate seminal fluids; or positive people may miss then restart HIV meds, which may lead to variations of viral loads.

So, for now, researchers are not green-lighting condomless sex for guys with undetectable HIV blood levels. And for serodiscordant heterosexual couples (in which the man is positive, the woman negative) who want to conceive, the researchers advise that the safest method remains artificial insemination.

Search: sex, condom, UNAIDS, World Health Organization, semen

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