Treatment News : Transmitting HIV While on Meds Is Rare but Likely Still Possible

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June 2, 2014

Transmitting HIV While on Meds Is Rare but Likely Still Possible

A new analysis of data regarding mixed HIV status heterosexual couples suggests that, although rare, the transmission of HIV while taking antiretrovirals (ARVs) may still take place, aidsmap reports. Publishing their findings in Clinical Infectious Diseases, French researchers conducted a literature review of studies of 1,672 heterosexual discordant couples in which the partner with HIV was taking ARVs.

The investigators found four cases of one partner transmitting to another during 2,773 person-years. The transmissions were proven through genetic analysis to have taken place within the couples. The various studies found that between 70 percent of the groups of HIV-positive partners were virally suppressed. Seventeen percent of the sex acts did not involve condoms.

The researchers calculated that the highest risk of transmitting HIV through condomless heterosexual intercourse was either 8.7 or 13 per 100,000 acts, depending on whether the HIV-positive partner had been taking ARVs for greater than or less than six months. (Granted, the actual risk may be much lower.) This means that if a couple were having sex an average of six times a month, after 10 years and 720 acts of intercourse, there would be a 1.85 percent or 3.7 percent risk of transmission.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.

Search: HIV, transmission, aidsmap, serodiscordant couples, risk, Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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  comments 1 - 2 (of 2 total)    

steve, , 2014-07-09 15:16:22
"The researchers calculated that the highest risk of transmitting HIV through condomless heterosexual intercourse was either 8.7 or 13 per 100,000 acts" The 3.7% risk is calculated as the extrapolation that the worst case scenario would occur in each sex act, every time, every year for 10 years? What are the odds of that actually occurring?

ogb, Austin, TX, 2014-06-03 12:40:53
Yes, but did the research say whether the transmission was from top to bottom or bottom to top? I believe bottom-to-top transmission is virtually unheard of if the bottom has an undetectable viral load and on meds.

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